The number of people in temporary accommodation in Eastbourne has soared to almost six times the level of two years ago.
Latest figures show there are currently 71 households in temporary accommodation, which has shot up sharply from 12 households in April 2015.
This increase is reflected both regionally and nationally due to a significant rise in the number of people seeking housing advice and making homelessness applications.
As a result, the cost to Eastbourne Borough Council of providing emergency accommodation is growing. Council spending on housing benefit above the amount that can be reclaimed through subsidy nearly doubled from £72,000 in 2014/15, to £132,000 in 2015/16, and it is likely to be higher still in 2016/17.
Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, Cabinet member for housing, said, “We are continuing to receive an increasing number of homeless applications and the waiting time for council homes is getting longer.
“This situation has arisen due to government policy that is depleting our housing stocks and its changes to benefit entitlements while making severe cuts to our funding.”
The need for emergency accommodation in Eastbourne was highlighted in a Homeless Strategy published by the council in January, which outlines various activities to tackle homelessness.
As part of a wider partnership with East and West Sussex, Eastbourne made two successful bids to the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Homeless Prevention Programme in December 2016.
The three-year projects are Prevention of Rough Sleeping, which improves services and finds housing solutions for those at risk of rough sleeping, and Social Impact Bonds, a new service targeted at entrenched rough sleepers.
Councillor Shuttleworth added, “We are working hard with partnership agencies to deal with and prevent homelessness, alongside responding as best we can to priority demands for accommodation.”