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Nearly 4,000 people in Worcester 'homeless' since 2011
NEARLY 4,000 people in Worcester have presented themselves as homeless since 2011, it has emerged.
Worcester City Council is warning the situation could get worse due to shock funding cuts to services for vulnerable people.
Your Worcester News can reveal that since April alone, 865 people have claimed to be 'homeless' in the city and a total of 3,783 since the spring of 2011.
It is now expected to smash through the 1,000 mark for another year, after it hit 1,327 for the whole of 2012/13 and 1,527 in 2011/12.
Nina Warrington, who is in charge of strategic housing services at the council, has warned that the pressures could "crash in around us" once April's funding cuts are factored in.
Worcestershire County Council is set to axe £8.5 million from its Supporting People budget, which goes on helping social and sheltered housing tenants get extra help like debt advice, vocational training to find work and domestic abuse support.
Mrs Warrington said pressures on the city council's homelessness services is rising.
"At the current time the number of approaches to us have increased," she said.
"Our prevention rate (the number who avoided becoming officially classed as 'homeless') has gone up but that's partly down to the services available out there.
"With the bedroom tax and housing benefit changes I don't know for the future - to some extent the help that has been there in the past has masked the situation.
"With the county's budget cuts and a number of other factors, it could crash in around us all."
Her comments, made during a meeting of the performance, management and budget scrutiny committee, led to concern from politicians.
During a rough sleepers in the city last month 31 people were found to be on the streets.
Councillor Pat Agar, the Mayor of Worcester, said: "My concern for homeless people is longstanding.
"I don't want to see it at 60 next year."
Councillor Joy Squires, who chaired the panel, said: "There is absolutely no doubt that the pressures are going to be enormous."
Since last April, when the current financial year started, the highest average length of stay in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation was 4.7 weeks, below the council's target of no more than six weeks.
Of the 1,327 people who approached the council last year, staff managed to ensure 819 didn't come officially 'homeless', mainly through both advice and practical support.
In the current financial year, which runs until the end of March, 519 of the 865 people so far have avoided becoming statutorily homeless.
* Did you present yourself as being 'homeless' to the city council? If so email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01905 742248.
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