Almost 170 people have been temporarily housed in Norwich so far this year because they feared they were about to become homeless, new figures have revealed.

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And Norwich City Council leaders fear homelessness could increase in the months ahead, with changes to housing benefit in the pipeline.

New statistics show 380 people have presented themselves to the city council as at risk of homelessness since January, with 169 placed in temporary accommodation.

Following investigations of their circumstances, 59 went on to be re-homed by the council.

But council bosses said the days of families being put up in B&Bs for weeks on end were in the past, with people instead housed in self-contained accommodation with en-suite facilities and kitchens.

And whereas the number of people in temporary accommodation rocketed to 615 in Norwich in 2004, as of last week it was just 39.

Council bosses said B&B accommodation was only used as a last resort and so far this year 12 families have been placed in B&Bs for the “odd night” when the self-contained units have been full. As of last week there were none in B&Bs.

The council said the temporary accommodation budget for 2004 was more than £1m, but is now down to £265,000.

The authority said about 90pc will be repaid to the council through housing benefit and top-up payments, so the actual cost of providing temporary accommodation to the homeless households ahead of the outcome of their homeless investigation works out at about £25,000 per year.

Victoria MacDonald, the city council’s cabinet member for housing said: “It is inevitable that homelessness is going to go up, but we are ready for it.

“All it takes is for somebody to lose their job or even get their hours cut and that can push them below the line.

“We follow very strict criteria as to what constitutes homelessness and for those who do not qualify we point them towards other organisations and agencies which can help.”

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