More young families being left "homeless", figures reveal
MORE families with young children are being forced into homelessness in Gloucestershire, figures have revealed.
Problems in getting access to private properties for rent and changes to the benefit system have been blamed for the rise.
The latest statistics for a three-month period in 2012 show that, compared to the same period the year before, there has been a drastic increase in households with young people who have experienced statutory homelessness.
Statutory homelessness is defined as a household which the local authority must provide accommodation for if they are not intentionally without a home.
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At the end of September 2012, there were 168 households in the county in this situation compared to 119 in September 2011. It means an extra 49 households were struggling to find a home.
According to the county council, the increase has been blamed on changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). LHA dictates how much money a claimant can receive in housing benefit and is now directly related to how many bedrooms they have. There is also a limit on how much a person can receive depending on where they live. This has caused problems for some families who simply cannot afford to stay in their home.
This has been compounded by the challenge of a private rental sector which is often reluctant to accept tenants who are on benefits. As a result, organisations across the county are trying to work more with private landlords to solve the problem.
Councillor Peter Jeffries (LD, Springbank), Cheltenham Borough Council cabinet member for housing and safety, said: "If we have any influence at a borough level, then we should definitely look at what we are able to do to help these people. We should also be using our influence at a county and national level to put the pressure on and make changes if they are needed."