Basildon Council will receive a major funding boost for supporting people sleeping rough, with £474,871 to boost programmes for those most in need of housing.

The money from central government will fund the demand for homelessness services across the borough.

Over the last 12 months, the council's combined housing and homelessness interventions have led to a local reduction in rough sleeping, from 12 people in autumn 2018, to five people in autumn 2019.

The new funding will help the council to continue tackling the causes and create solutions for those sleeping rough for the next 12 months.

Basildon Council Leader Gavin Callaghan, said: "This essential funding directly assists people who need a bed and helps them to create a stable home.

"Homelessness is a serious issue that the council is determined to tackle.

"A decade of government cuts and welfare reforms has meant the issue of homelessness has become far worse, so it is welcome they are recognising the error of their ways and seeking to address the issue with this funding."

The new funding will go towards boosting the recent success of programmes such as Basildon Emergency Night Shelter (BENS) which provides somewhere safe and warm for rough sleepers, and a gateway to longer-term solutions like the Rent Start initiative and supported Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

Last year BENS provided:
• 1,450 beds
• 98 different guests between one and 76 nights of accommodation
• 107 volunteers, and 3,533 hours of their time - including 1,112 hours of night-work.

Rent Start, Basildon Council's private sector incentive scheme, helps private landlords and agents find suitable tenants to rent rooms in shared houses, bedsits, studio flats and self-contained one bedroom flats or houses. It provides private landlords and agents with:

• A choice of tenants who have been assessed to ensure they can afford the tenancy and have the skills in place to maintain it successfully
• Payment of one month's rent in advance
• A deposit bond equal to one month's rent to cover against damage or rent arrears.

From Jan - Dec 2019, the council facilitated 102 rent start tenancies for single homeless individuals or childless couples.

Published on Thursday 30 January, 2020