Dorset Council to bid for a share of £85M to help the homeless

Dorset Council to bid for a share of £85M to help the homeless

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:58am 25th June 2020.

Dorset Council is to bid for a share of £85m in Government funding to help find accommodation for the county’s rough sleepers and homeless households.

The authority is hoping to be one of the first to bid for a share of the money when invitation open next month.

News of the bid comes as a Cabinet report next week says the council will now only be housing those it has a statutory duty to.

During the pandemic the council has been providing accommodation for both that group and those who were homeless for other reasons which, until then, it did not have a legal obligation to.

Those that the council has no legal duty towards have now been told that they will have to find their own accommodation, although council staff will help where they can.

homeless person in Weymouth

A  council spokesman said:

"Officers from the council have met with representatives from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) today (Wednesday) and have been advised we will be able to bid for capital and revenue funding to bring forward accommodation options for our rough sleepers and homeless households. We are now awaiting details of how to bid, which will be made available to us next week."

The council has also acknowledged that a larger group of rough sleepers and others who were homeless ended up being accommodated in Weymouth  than is normally the case, claimed by some local people to lead to cases of anti-social behaviour.

Seafront drinkers in Weymouth

A spokesman for Dorset Council said:

"Dorset Council has previously used some Weymouth town centre properties to accommodate homeless people. Unfortunately, due to the higher levels of people presenting as homeless to the council during the lockdown period, there are more people accommodated in a smaller area than normal. Many of the people we currently have in temporary accommodation have a local connection to Weymouth & Portland and have been living in the community for a number of years.

"It should be noted that prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the council had 74 homeless people in temporary accommodation across Dorset already and there are currently 150.

weymouth and portland police on Weymouth Esplanade

"Although Dorset police are reporting fewer incidences of anti-social behaviour across the Weymouth and Melcombe Regis areas as a whole, down 18% compared to this time last year, we recognise the impact of the behaviour of some people who are accommodated in the area has been concerning for local residents and businesses. All partners including Dorset Council, Dorset Police and Weymouth Town Council are listening to concerns and are working together to safeguard residents and businesses in the area from anti-social behaviour.”

"We have an ‘exit strategy’ which will see many of the people in temporary accommodation moved to more settled housing and we’re finding suitable properties in order for this to happen. It will however take time to find suitable accommodation as there is a shortage of social housing as well as affordable accommodation in the private rented sector.  The council runs a private sector leasing scheme and any landlord with a property that would like to offer it to the council to manage on their behalf should contact the council’s Housing team."

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter