£250K funding boost to fight South Kesteven homelessness

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South Kesteven has received a £250,000 government funding boost to help the district tackle the growing problem of homelessness.

The money comes as its district council has agreed a strategy to work with other councils and groups across Lincolnshire on preventing homelessness.

The four-year strategy document warns of increasing homelessness and councils and partners facing “unprecedented change” due to “economic challenges and significant welfare, housing and planning policy developments.”

It noted South Kesteven had 268 registered homeless in 2016/17 compared to 198 in 2010/11 – the highest in the county.

Coun Nick Neilson, cabinet member for communities and well-being, told SKDC’s cabinet last week that the district council has agreed to work with other councils and groups across Lincolnshire, as long it could monitor and change policies if need be.

SKDC also plans to stage another homelessness forum in March/ April, which would see charities and voluntary agencies receiving copies of the strategy to debate, as well as discussing how they are tackling the problem.

Coun Neilson noted a previous forum received criticism from homelessness groups that councils needed to share information on homelessness, something which will improve under the new strategy.

He said the council has £21,000 in reserves to spend on homelessness, boosted by £122,000 in 2017/18 and £130,000 in 2018/19 from the government.

A report for the cabinet budget meeting confirmed the money has come from a government Flexible Homelessness Support Grant.

“This grant is available to allow councils to provide greater flexibility to prioritise homelessness prevention. The council will be allocating the grant to support the work set out in the report.”

Council leader Matthew Lee told the meeting that the strategy document was very important.

He said: “We see more people potentially at risk of homelessness.

“The longer we leave it, the more difficult things become and the more expensive it becomes.”

Coun Charmaine Morgan warned adults were most at risk of homelessness as there is currently no legal requirement for councils to house them.

She said: “A man, 55 and 
divorced, may find himself on the street.”

Coun Morgan also warned benefit changes may fuel numbers.