Friday 12 July 2024
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Nottingham

Homelessness doubles in Nottingham city and rough sleeping the highest June figure in a decade

Nottingham City Council is faced with a severe homelessness and rough sleeping crisis, made worse by local economic challenges and national housing issues, says a report.

A new report from the Housing and City Development Scrutiny Committee outlines the city’s struggle and the extensive measures being implemented to address the problems.

Homelessness in Nottingham

The Council’s statutory duties, as outlined in the Housing Act 1996 and the Homeless Reduction Act 2017, mandate the prevention and relief of homelessness, including providing emergency accommodation for those in priority need. Despite these efforts, homelessness in Nottingham has surged, with a significant increase in the use of emergency accommodations.

Nottingham rough sleepers

As of 18 June 2024, the Council is accommodating 235 households in emergency settings, a sharp rise from 115 a year ago. Of these, 85% are families. In total, approximately 800 households, including around 430 families, are currently in temporary accommodation. The report suggests that this increase is partly due to the lack of affordable housing and high rents in the private sector, which have risen beyond Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels.

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rough sleepers in Nottingham
A homeless person sleeps in a doorway on Wheeler Gate in Nottingham
© westbridgfordwire.com

The local housing market’s pressure, combined with Nottingham’s below-average incomes and high rental costs, has created a dire situation. The Council’s waiting list for affordable housing now numbers nearly 10,500 households. Efforts to build and acquire new housing have been outpaced by losses through Right to Buy sales, with 988 such sales between 2019-2023 compared to only 500 new affordable homes delivered in the same period.

Strategic Interventions and Challenges

The Council has increased the capacity of its Housing Solutions service to better address homelessness prevention. This includes personalised housing plans and referrals to necessary support services. However, high caseloads have previously limited these efforts. The ongoing restructure aims to reduce caseloads to manageable levels and improve prevention and rehousing processes.

Despite these efforts, the Council forecasts significant spending on temporary accommodation due to the imbalance between supply and demand. The total number of people in temporary accommodation rose from 599 in March 2023 to 776 in March 2024. To mitigate costs, the Council has implemented measures such as block booking emergency accommodations at lower rates and increasing the use of private rented sector properties through the Nottingham Private Rented Assistance Scheme (NPRAS).

Rough Sleeping

Rough sleeping has also seen a marked increase, with a headcount in June 2024 identifying 51 people sleeping rough in Nottingham, the highest June figure in a decade. This includes 42 males and 9 females, with 12 individuals recently released from prison. The rise in rough sleeping is attributed to factors such as the closure of asylum seeker hotels, early prison releases, and the aftermath of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Future Plans

To address rough sleeping, the Council has secured over £20 million in external grants for various support services from 2021 to 2025. These services include outreach teams, supported accommodation, and employment support for those with histories of rough sleeping. Despite these efforts, the Council faces challenges such as the closure of key supported accommodation projects and ongoing difficulties in engaging some rough sleepers with available support.

Looking ahead, the Council’s updated Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy aims to enhance prevention, minimize expensive temporary accommodation use, and improve the flow of people into settled housing. This includes utilizing void properties, expanding temporary accommodation, and maximizing Housing Benefit claims to reduce costs.

 

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