The cost of dealing with homelessness could have pushed Ipswich council into financial problems had it not taken drastic action years ago.

That's the claim from council chiefs as new figures from the House of Commons shows it spends about 7% of its budget on dealing with accommodation for homeless residents.

That puts at it 17th in the league table of English councils facing problems in coping with the levels of homelessness.

In first place is Hastings in East Sussex which is now spending half its budget on accommodation for people who are homeless.

Ipswich council leader Neil MacDonald held the housing portfolio until he became council leader in May, and said the long-term plans they had made since taking control of the borough in 2011 had been paying dividends.

He said: "We have invested in projects like Sidegate Lane accommodation and that means things have remained stable."

Ipswich Star:

Current housing portfolio holder Alasdair Ross added: "Ipswich Borough Council, like all councils across the UK, are seeing an increase in costs and a decrease in funding.

"However, the approximate spend to support emergency accommodation is between 5 and 7% of the Council’s overall spend, a cost which is similar to the previous three years.

"In Ipswich we are fortunate to own our temporary accommodation sites, which although has operational costs, does mean we can support those in need without having to find significant funds from elsewhere or passing any costs on to taxpayers.

"Of course, there are additional pressures; our community is heavily impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and our housing support team is seeing an increase in calls from tenants seeking advice and guidance.

"But by being able to offer preventative measures and early intervention, such as the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, we have been able to support people and avoid homelessness."

That means that Ipswich is not in the same situation as Hastings - and Mr MacDonald had heard from that council's leader about the problems it is facing.

Hastings' leaders have warned that if the homeless problem remains so serious, it will be facing bankruptcy which would force the government to send in commissioners to run its affairs.

Other councils are not in that position yet - but what worries some is the speed with which the homelessness crisis has grown.

In the financial year ending in April 2019, Hastings spent £750,000 on accommodation for homeless people. In the year ending April 2024 the figure is expected to be £5.6m.

That position is being mirrored by other councils across the country according to figures that have been accessed from the House of Commons library.