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Councils vow to tackle homelessness in West Suffolk as accounts reveal temporary accommodation costs of £45,000

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West Suffolk House, St Edmundsbury ANL-141216-142053001
West Suffolk House, St Edmundsbury ANL-141216-142053001

Council bosses have approved a plan to tackle homelessness in West Suffolk as figures reveal the cost of housing those facing it fell this winter.

St Edmundsbury borough and Forest Heath district councils spent at least £45,629.44 to provide temporary accommodation for those facing homelessness between October 1 2014 and January 31 2015 – a decrease on last year’s total for the same period.

On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet approved a new homelessness strategy for West Suffolk, which will see money invested in more properties to supply those in need.

Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Homelessness is a very complex issue which can affect anybody.

“If you have a young family, you can’t raise them if you’re only in a premises overnight.”

The West Suffolk Homlessness Strategy aims to provide 35 properties for homeless people in Bury, Mildenhall and Brandon – 17 for single people and couples and 19 for families.

Cllr Gower said: “We have taken steps to purchase properties, which is making a huge difference to the cost.”

Rona Burt, Forest Heath’s cabinet member for planning, housing and transport, said: “There are a number of reasons why people become homeless. But we can’t let things escalate to a crisis, particularly for those with children.”

Cllr Burt said she believed it was vital to invest in affordable housing ‘where people can afford their rent’.

“If we make sure we have more affordable housing available, it will hopefully improve the situation,” she said.

Published accounts show that St Edmundsbury bore the lion’s share of those placed in emergency accommodation, spending £34,015 from October to January, while Forest Heath spent £11,613.