Sharp rise in Wiltshire homelessness cases, council reveals

As of the end of March there are 179 households in temporary accommodation in Wiltshire according to the council. Credit: PA Images

The number of households now homeless in Wiltshire has jumped by 70 per cent over the last year according to new council figures.

The rise in homeless has caused a 46 per cent jump in demand for temporary accommodation according to council documents discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on 23 May.

As of the end of March there are 179 households in temporary accommodation in Wiltshire, according to the council.

Leader of Wiltshire Council Richard Clewer said the increase was primarily because the private rented housing market is ‘broken’ and too expensive.

He said: “The reason temporary accommodation has increased is because the number of people on the housing register has gone up significantly and because let’s be blunt the private rental market is now broken, completely broken.

“We used to be able to find local housing allowance affordable properties across much of Wiltshire but they’re just not there now.

“That means we’ve got more people who are needing housing and it’s harder to house them.”

He added: “One of the tasks that we’ve given our officers is to acquire more temporary accommodation so that we’re able to meet that demand without having to rely on bed and breakfasts for temporary accommodation.

“We’re not expecting that demand to ease off anytime soon.”

He emphasised later that homeless does not necessarily mean sleeping on the street.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ian Thorn said: “There has to be more that Wilshire can do to support homeless people and provide them with accommodation.

"We’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world and bluntly there’s no excuse for people to be homeless in the UK.”

Cabinet Member for Housing Phil Alford said in a statement after the meeting: “Last year we had an average of 85 households in temporary accommodation but during the last 12 months we have seen a steady increase in homeless approaches leading to 179 households being accommodated in temporary accommodation at the end of March 2023.

“We are monitoring this very closely and working to increase the number of units of temporary accommodation we have available to us to help with this increasing demand, but none of these households are rough sleeping and they all remain in Wiltshire with no families in Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

“This is in contrast to many other local authorities who due to the increasing demands in homelessness are using Bead and Breakfast for families.”

Credit: Jude Holden, LDRS