Warning that cuts could lead to more people sleeping rough in West Norfolk

Concerns of increased risk of homelessness in West Norfolk. Picture: PA/WIRE

Concerns of increased risk of homelessness in West Norfolk. Picture: PA/WIRE - Credit: PA

A West Norfolk councillor has raised concerns over the proposed cuts to housing-related services which could leave vulnerable people at risk of homelessness.

Norfolk County Council is due to set its budget for the upcoming financial year on Monday, including plans to remove over half of the current funding to 'building resilient lives', from £10m to £4.5m.

These include hostel accommodation for adults and young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and floating support which helps adults stay in their homes.

Clenchwarton and South Lynn representative Alexandra Kemp said she believed the cuts were unsafe and could significantly increase street homelessness for young care leavers.

In an email to the Children's Services Commissioner, she points to the council's impact assessment of the budget which states the reduction could 'possibly lead to increased risk of institutional admittance, and increased risks of offending and mental illness linked with homelessness'.

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Ms Kemp said: 'The cuts go against the council's strategic duty to help vulnerable people.

'It leaves young care leavers in the lurch. People who visit them in hostels and provide support for up to two years, all that is going to stop and we can't let them end up on the streets. It could increase the number of rough sleepers.'

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The news comes after figures released last month by the Department for Communities and Local Government revealed there were 42 rough sleepers in King's Lynn in 2016, up from five in the previous year.

The figures came as no surprise to Paula Hall, chief executive of homeless charity Purfleet Trust, who believed the numbers had risen from a 'domino effect' caused by welfare reform, cuts to support services and lack of housing.

'Homeless people have a lot of complex needs around mental health which is a huge contributing factor.' She said.

She said not being able to access support for mental health issues led to people being unable to cope with managing a tenancy. Rent arrears were then followed by debt: 'It is not until they are homeless that the issue is highlighted. And it's not just about housing; we need to address drug and alcohol issues and help them get into employment.'

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