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20% jump in SW families facing loss of their home

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 18, 2012

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The number of families on the brink of homelessness has surged by one-fifth in the Westcountry, underlining economic strife and a shortage of properties.

Official figures revealed the number of cases of homelessness "prevention and relief" – where councils find accommodation for families about to lose the roof over their heads – hit 5,510 in Devon and Cornwall in the year to March 2012.

It represents a 22% increase on the previous 12 months, when 4,510 cases were recorded across the two counties. The worst affected part of the Westcountry is Exeter, where there were 15.5 cases per 1,000 households registered by local authorities.

North Devon recorded the sharpest increase in the region, with 564 families seeking help compared to 330 the previous year – a jump of 71%. In Cornwall, the latest figures recorded 1,256 cases, a 31% per cent increase on 956 in the previous period. Other districts reporting an increase were West Devon (62%), Teignbridge (54%), South Hams (17%) and East Devon (12%). Mid Devon, Plymouth and Torbay all recorded falls.

The figures were published as the Government set out its proposals to ensure anyone at risk of homelessness gets help. But Jack Dromey, Labour's Shadow Housing Minister, said: "The figures show there has been a rapid increase in the number of people seeking help as a result of the Government's failed economic and housing policies – a double-dip recession made in Downing Street and sharp falls in house building."

A government report – Making Every Contact Count – details the "vital support, such as repossession, tenancy or debt advice and rehousing services [that] can set many people back on track before they face losing their home".

At the same time, homelessness charities in Plymouth, North Devon and Taunton were given funding to extend the No Second Night Out initiative beyond London. The idea is to quickly identify people sleeping rough locally, and charities provide them with help to get them off the streets.

Phil Noall, project manager of Freedom Social Projects, a charity leading a coalition of organisations taking action in North Devon, said of the £200,000 the area will get: "The context of the award is increasing levels of homelessness nationally and in North Devon. Locally we have experienced a 33% rise over the last two years."

However, Crisis, the homelessness charity, pointed out that more and more people are being forced from their homes as the recession bites and they are unable to meet the rent or mortgage.

But Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: "We have some of the strongest protections in the world to safeguard people from homelessness, despite trying economic times, with homelessness in this country lower than for 28 of the last 30 years. But more can always be done."

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  • Charlespk  |  August 19 2012, 1:22PM

    Bodd666 has a very short memory. When interest rates rise again, and they will eventually; without general inflation to reduce the 'real' values of houses, together with some wage inflation, there will many more losing their homes. . The only reason to buy your home was that it was cheaper than renting. . It patently isn't now. It was a combination for catastrophe. http://tinyurl.com/9fwfnud (open in a new window) http://tinyurl.com/3cdrcr7 (open in a new window)

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  • josdave  |  August 19 2012, 11:34AM

    This was always going to be a problem when they started taking two incomes into account for the mortgage. Circumstances do change - one may lose his/her job, she may become pregnant and have to give up work or one may die. It was never wise to take the maximum mortgage possible but so many did and suffered when the situation changed. Better to rent than make yourself vulnerable to repossession.

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  • Bod66  |  August 18 2012, 11:13PM

    I feel these Etonians are going for work houses an shanty towns, just need to get the masses on board by using that line of `this could be you` tow the party line. But the Condem party are dieing, the Libs are known to lose to penguins in byelections.

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  • rcliffe  |  August 18 2012, 10:59PM

    The outlook for homelessness is especially grim. The benefits received by low income working families are being cut. The entitlement to housing benefit is changing – even if entitled to help your rent must be significantly below the average rent for it all to count. If you cannot find a property well below the average rent (logically many will not) then you will have to rent a property of average rent and make up the difference yourself from your other (reduced) income. Next year changes in Council Tax Benefit mean that families /individuals in the lowest income bands will be required to find hundreds of pounds of Council Tax or face (ultimately) imprisonment. The figures do not add up. We are going to see dramatic increases in homelessness and insolvency. A lot of people are going to feel completely alienated and I am not just talking about the Daily Mail's ' workshy scroungers'.

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  • Bod66  |  August 18 2012, 9:53PM

    Even grass gets 1Kwh/m2, if you throw in its concrete or a tiled roof, without albido an spectrum analysis, its Qaud squared of floating points.............................. Yet this `Global warming is set in Billion Dollar CO2 contracts trading Co2 out of the poor to the rich is Science`........ An then theirs Methane..............

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  • Bod66  |  August 18 2012, 9:37PM

    The thing about concrete is apart from you can build houses on it, it does actually change the Albedo of a planet?... Albedo smedo.............. CO2 is not the enemy.....

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  • Bod66  |  August 18 2012, 9:26PM

    Read an article on how much of the UK is under contrete......from memory about 2%-4%........link to follow..

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  • Biddyford  |  August 18 2012, 9:19PM

    I think we try and solve our housing problems the wrong way, surely it would be better to ensure that those living in the South West are paid a proper salary so they can afford the existing housing stock. Many salaries are at taking the 'p' levels here, infact so much so that it's amazing that more companies aren't beating a path to the area to save a fortunate in salaries!

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  • Stork  |  August 18 2012, 1:59PM

    Shortage of properties (line 2) actually means, shortage of "affordable properties". There may very well be loads of properties for sale on the market, but they're too expensive for indigenous locals who earn somewhere around the South West average wage. Anybody who knows anything about the UK housing situation, knows this, and has known it for years. The answer, is more land to become available. If the UK has a rising population, then we cannot expect people who have been born and who work in the South West, to move away somewhere else, so that retirees who move into the South West, can continue to see green fields ! Where are the locals to go ? Move away, or extend your debt higher in an effort to stay, and thus risk losing your house should there be a glitch in your finances. The banks/building societies are putting the brake pedal on at the moment, regarding re-posessions, but there are an awful lot of families on the financial knife edge who could lose their homes. It's the UK planning system which has for years "drip fed" available building land, that has caused this problem making building land now so expensive that new build houses are completely out of reach for locals and youngsters starting off. Unless more land is released which reduces land costs, then this problem will never, ever, be solved.

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