The problems facing Doncaster Council in their bid to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness

Doncaster Council and its partners are performing well in tackling rough sleeping and homelessness but issues still remain, councillors will hear.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 12:35 am
Two men pictured in 2018 thought to be under the influence of synthetic cannabinoid Spice in Doncaster town centre. Picture: Marie Caley/Doncaster Free Press

The news comes as council bosses outline a new five-year strategy to combat homelessness and rough sleeping in the borough.

Consultancy firm Imogen Blood Associates undertook a thorough review of the situation in Doncaster earlier this year.

Services were praised for their data recording, an ‘ongoing commitment’ to funding housing related projects, the nationally recognised Complex Lives team and St Leger Homes for ‘continued resources to prevent and respond to homelessness’.

But the firm found many cases ‘could be preventable’, current models are ‘not effective’ for the increased complexity of people, referral to support housing was a ‘default response’ and a lack of different types of accommodation.

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Figures show Doncaster has nearly 11 people per 100,000 have been identified as homeless – more than both the Yorkshire and England average.

Nationally, the problem has been on the increase made more complicated with a rise in complex issues.

The council dipped into reserve funds last year to fund extra police patrols in the town centre following a massive public backlash from the public over rough sleepers and the problems of anti-social behaviour and drug abuse.

A Public Space Protection Order was also implemented previously in order to combat the issue.

The Complex Lives team was also established and went on to receive national praise for successfully working with different partners who took on responsibility for rough sleeping.

Latest figures show over 2,200 people presented themselves to DMBC as being at risk of homelessness. The majority, around 975 ,received housing relief duty.

Nearly two-thirds of cases were single households.

The roll-out of welfare reform in the shape of Universal Credit has been blamed in some cases of financial problems with people trying to secure accommodation

Other factors include affordability of owning or renting in the private sector putting pressure on council house waiting lists, time limited funding from Government initiatives of no more than two years and reducing local authority budgets.

Mandy Preskey, strategy and performance improvement manager at DMBC, said: “There has been a nationwide increase in number of rough sleepers and people presenting with multiple and complex issues.

“This increase has been seen in Doncaster. Homelessness Legislation requires every council to provide a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy to ensure a strategic approach to tackling and preventing homelessness, and to strengthen the assistance available to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

“The strategy sets out our strategic ambition for how we want services and the wider system to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, but when people need it the accommodation offer and the right support are in place to get people to place they can call their own as quickly as possible.”

Councillors will discuss the strategy at a meeting at Civic Office on November 1.