Plans to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in Stafford are to be discussed by senior councillors this month.
The report to Stafford Borough Council’s Cabinet comes hot on the heels of recently released figures that show the county town is bucking the trend in tackling the issue.
Households classed as homeless, or threatened with homelessness, in England increased by 11% between 2018 and last year according to Government figures. But Stafford Borough saw its numbers more than halved – with official rough sleeper figures also falling in 2019.
The council is already seen as one of the country’s leading authorities in preventing homelessness and reducing the numbers of people sleeping on the streets.
Their work has been highlighted in the House of Lords, attracted parliamentary visits to the county town, and the authority was the first in the Midlands to have achieved the Government’s gold standard for preventing homelessness.
On Thursday (16 January) the cabinet will be asked to approve a new ‘Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy’ which will run until 2025. The document was drawn up following consultation with partners and members of the public last year.
Councillor Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities and Health, said that prevention was their primary focus.
“We want to ensure that no one person needs to sleep out on the streets without a roof, if we can help it. Equally having people in temporary accommodation should only be a last resort, which is why we have invested in further flats to house people - rather than placing them in bed and breakfast.”
The strategy has six key priorities including increasing the number of housing options, support to keep people in accommodation, and working with partners to prevent homelessness at the earliest possible opportunity.
Cllr Pert added: “We are seen as one of the leading authorities in the country on tackling the issues of homelessness and rough sleeping, but we know we can never rest on our laurels.
“One person sleeping rough is one too many. But the solution is not as simple as giving someone a house - there is nearly always a catalogue of other issues that will stop a person keeping a roof over their head - and it is these issues that this authority will continue to tackle along with a number of our partner agencies.”
The full Cabinet agenda and report will be available from Thursday 9 January and can be found at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/committee-calendar
The number of households in Stafford Borough who were homeless, or threatened with homelessness, between April and June last year was 57 - a drop of more than 50 per cent than the corresponding period in 2018. Rough sleeper numbers were down to five in 2019 compared with seven the year before.
Press Release No 5586