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Homelessness action plan voted for by Dover District Council cabinet after fears of coronavirus worsening the problem

An action plan to help the homeless has been voted through.

Dover District Council's cabinet today (Monday) unanimously agreed on the draft scheme at an online meeting.

The council has a new plan to tackle homelessness. Library image
The council has a new plan to tackle homelessness. Library image

The public will be asked their views on this in an eight-week consultation, which lasts until March.

Cllr Derek Murphy (Con), the authority's portfolio holder for housing, told the meeting: "Even in this stressful time we have, due to coronavirus, we must focus on people less fortunate than ourselves."

He had warned in the action plan report that there was a risk of more families losing their homes in the aftermath of coronavirus.

He said the strain of the pandemic on people could also cause homelessness due to relationship breakdowns.

Cllr Nicholas Kenton, portfolio holder for planning and regulatory services, agreed, saying: "We are in very difficult times but this issue is so important and is likely to get worse during the pandemic."

Cllr Nicholas Kenton
Cllr Nicholas Kenton

The council is seeking improve the quality of housing for homeless families in the district.

It has also vowed to increase the number of private rented accommodation for such families, through rent guarantor schemes to encourage landlords to take on peple claiming benefits.

Bids will also be put forward for more government funding for help schemes as costs have grown for local authorities to provide temporary homes,

In Dover this has gone up from around £208,000 in 2014 to £747,000 in 2019.

This comes as demand for accommodation rose from 49 homeless families in Dover in 2014 to 170 in 2019.

Cllr Derek Murphy, Picture: Alan Langley.
Cllr Derek Murphy, Picture: Alan Langley.

Around 27 rough sleepers in the district have been placed in shelter since Covid-19 struck the UK in March.

Some of the main causes include tenant evictions, low incomes, rising rent prices and lack of affordable housing.

It has been suggested that cuts to local public services have led to less support being made to vulnerable adults locally.

Nationally, the number of people living in temporary accommodation across England has risen by 37% from 58,933 in 2013 to 93,000 in 2020.

Under this, the number of rough sleepers living on UK streets has almost doubled from 2,414 people in 2013 to 4,266 in 2019.

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