Suffolk councils get financial help to try to keep tenants in homes

Neil Macdonald, right, with Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere at the new homeless families' uni

Neil Macdonald, right, with Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere at the new homeless families' unit in the town. Picture; IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Tenants in Suffolk could get extra support if they are struggling to pay their rent after two authorities got a Whitehall windfall to help them out.

A joint bid by Ipswich and West Suffolk councils has brought in £320,000 to enable them to do more work preventing tenants in the private rented sector from being made homeless.

Part of that money will be spent on hiring two officers who will work with struggling tenants and their landlords in both council areas.

Struggling tenants who are unable to pay their rent because they have lost their job or are ill could get financial support to stop them being made homeless.

The scheme will be administered by Ipswich council – but it will also cover West Suffolk, the new council created by the merger of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath.

The councils already have a duty of care under the Homelessness Reduction Act to people who have not made themselves intentionally homeless.

Often that means placing individuals or families in bed and breakfast or other temporary accommodation while they work towards something more permanent.

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That, however, is not an ideal setting for families and also comes at a high cost to the taxpayer – one which the councils have worked to reduce in recent years by buying or investing in their own temporary accommodation.

Ipswich Borough Council housing portfolio-holder, Neil MacDonald, said: “This successful bid shows that central government are prepared to back Ipswich, because of its track record in tackling homelessness.

“Prevention of homelessness, by working together with tenants and private landlords, will be better for all concerned.”

Sara Mildmay, cabinet member for housing at West Suffolk councils, said: “People can run into difficulties for all sorts of reasons, whether through losing their job, or dealing with an illness or a crisis in the family.

“Although temporary accommodation exists as a safety net, in most cases it isn’t the ideal solution.”

As well as financial support, both councils will work with tenants who have lost their job to help them into employment or training, while where appropriate they will also offer tenants budgeting advice.

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