'Deep concern' rising living costs will see more people facing homelessness in Suffolk

File photo dated 21/09/1995 of a homeless man sitting beside a doorway in London. More than 50,000 y

Suffolk charities are fearful that rising costs will see more people become homeless - Credit: PA

Energy bills and rising inflation are some factors that could force people in Suffolk out on the streets in the coming months, charities have said.

The average person is set to see a significant rise in how much they are spending on bills and food this year, leaving many worried about how they will cope financially.

More than 20 million households will see an average increase of around £700 this year on their energy bills.

The increase in the price of energy is also causing a variety of companies to increase how much they are charging customers.

Ipswich Housing Action Group (ihAg) provides free confidential advice regarding debts and money management, and can support people who are at risk of losing their homes.

Jools Ramsey, chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG). Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Jools Ramsey, chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group - Credit: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Jools Ramsey, chief executive officer at ihAg, said: "I have huge concerns about the impact of the current cost of living crisis, which is affecting every household in Suffolk. There is not just an increase in energy and fuel costs, but food prices are rising, as are mortgage rates and property rental costs.

"Households are continuing to adapt to the changes in their income which Covid-19 has brought about, and figures suggest personal debt has risen over the past 12 months. The combination of these circumstances will lead to more people facing the risk of homelessness.

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"Whilst the government has announced some measures to address the rise in energy bills, and a reduction in council tax for some households from April, the people we are supporting are continuing to face tough choices in their day to day spending, and are worried how much harder things will become."

People in council tax band A to D will get a £150 rebate on April 1, while the Energy Bills Rebate will provide around 28 million households with an upfront discount on their bills worth £200.

However, the £200 will automatically be recovered from people’s bills in equal £40 installments over the next five years.

Jill Dibben area retail manager, Amy Wragg charted manager apprentice and Claire Staddon CEO PICTURE

Claire Staddon, CEO of Emmaus Suffolk - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Emmaus Suffolk is a charity that works to prevent homelessness by supporting vulnerable, long-term unemployed and socially isolated people from its hubs in Ipswich and Felixstowe.

CEO Claire Staddon believes the statistics do not paint the full picture of homelessness in the region.

"We are deeply concerned that the rise of living costs will impact the most vulnerable in our locality disproportionality – through no fault of the individual, or family," she said.

The number of rough sleepers in Suffolk has not changed dramatically in the past three years, with a total of 58 recorded in 2021 - though this figure does fluctuate throughout the year.

A Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils spokesperson said: “Our housing solutions team have continued to support residents at risk of or finding themselves homeless and having to sleep on the streets, with the understanding that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for residents.

“We strongly encourage anyone who finds themselves in this critical situation to contact our housing solutions team as soon as possible to get the help and support they need and a safe and secure place to spend the night.”

Tim Holder from the Suffolk Community Foundation launching a previous Surviving Winter campaign Pict

Tim Holder from the Suffolk Community Foundation - Credit: Gregg Brown

Tim Holder, head of public affairs, Suffolk Community Foundation said: "There can be no doubt whatsoever that rises in living costs are already having a severe impact on the lives of many more people here in Suffolk today.

"Our local charities are seeing sharp rises in requests for help with even the most basic essentials for living as large numbers of families and older people struggle to put food on the table and keep their homes warm.

"In some areas of Suffolk we already have almost 30% of our children living in deprivation. Many will be shocked to know that in 2022, one in ten people in Suffolk are already living below the poverty line with numbers likely to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months.

"For those of us who are in a better financial position and still able to give, it has never been more important to do so. We need people to think local with their giving. Every penny will help our local charities and community groups to raise the levels of vital support they provide."