Fewer homeless people heading to Ipswich but services still stretched

PUBLISHED: 17:14 12 August 2020

Borough leader David Ellesmere and housing portfolio holder Neil MacDonald at the Homeless Unit in Ipswich. Picture; IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Borough leader David Ellesmere and housing portfolio holder Neil MacDonald at the Homeless Unit in Ipswich. Picture; IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL


Officials from Ipswich council have insisted the borough will not be left out of pocket after homeless people from Norwich were found bed and breakfast accommodation in hotels in the town.

A meeting of the borough’s scrutiny committee last week was told that people from other parts of the area were sometimes sent to Ipswich because that was the nearest accommodation that could be found – but when that happened it was their original area that had to pay for the accommodation.

In the past Ipswich hotels had played host to a number of homeless people from Colchester – but that is now very rare because the Essex borough now has its own accommodation for homeless people.

Ipswich council’s portfolio holder for housing Neil MacDonald said: “Now most of the people from outside the borough are from Babergh and Mid Suffolk. We do have a small number from Norfolk, including Norwich.”

Two years ago the borough opened a large homeless unit in the north of the town that offers accommodation to families and single people who have nowhere to live – but Mr MacDonald said this accommodation remained limited to people who had lived in the town for some time.

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It was the councils that sent people to Ipswich who were responsible for the cost of their accommodation, but the borough did have to carry out risk assessment before new people moved into a hotel – and there could be a strain on other services for homeless people.

“I know the Chapman Centre (which offers support to homeless people) does come under some pressure when there are more people needing its services,” Mr MacDonald added.

During the scrutiny debate, Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Lockington asked if the number of people being sent to Ipswich had fallen recently. Mr MacDonald said there were fewer coming from London boroughs and Essex – but housing officer Peter Whittall said this did now put the spotlight on people who arrived in Ipswich from Norfolk.

He added: “Norwich appears to be one of the biggest offenders (from Norfolk) at the moment.” But he did say that the number of people sent to Ipswich from other areas had fallen significantly in recent years – it has gone down from 144 in 2017/18 to 93 in 2019/20.

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