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£736,000 funding secured to tackle homelessness

Councils and other organisations in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have just been awarded more than £736,000 to help them develop more effective ways of tackling homelessness.

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They have been given the task of helping to devise a new, multi-agency approach that has prevention and early intervention at its heart.

The funding comes from a new £20 million "Trailblazer" fund set up by the Government to establish "a network of ambitious areas across England" aimed at tackling the root of the problem.

The areas that have been selected to pilot the new approach will look to engage with a wider group of people, not just those who are owed a statutory duty. They will work with the Government to identify what works best and to share best practice.

The primary focus will be on spotting any early warning signs and improving coordination between all the various agencies to enable them to intervene earlier and provide the appropriate support.

Emphasis will also be placed on working closely with landlords to help them maintain tenancies, resolve any problems with tenants and avoid evictions wherever possible.

And more attention will be given to making people at risk of becoming homeless aware of the various means of support that are available.

The funding is for three years. The successful bid was submitted in November by Fenland District Council on behalf of all the agencies in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution area that work with people threatened with homelessness.

Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland Council's Cabinet member responsible for housing, said: "The key to tackling homelessness is prevention - spotting any potential threat early and doing something about it before it turns into a crisis.

"To do that we need to create closer links between all the various agencies, including local housing authorities, health bodies, the police and probation.

"One of our main aims will be to build up knowledge, coordination and training so that all those who come into contact with someone who could be at risk is alert to the danger and knows who else in the network to liaise with to head it off.

"The biggest reason for people becoming homeless locally is because they have lost their rented or tied accommodation. So another vital element will be working closely with landlords to support them, as well as trying to increase the supply of decent and well managed private rented accommodation."

Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council, said: "This funding is vital to help Cambridge City Council build on the work we already do to prevent homelessness and enable us to work even closer with all the agencies involved across the whole devolution area.

"It is as important to stop people ending up with no place to call home as it is to get rough sleepers off the streets and into decent and secure accommodation."

Jason Ablewhite, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, said:"Homelessness is a growing problem, and I have seen the impacts on people myself, both on those individuals who are homeless, on the wider community and on those support services that try to help them. 

"Focusing on prevention, and identifying those in need before they reach crisis, will help reduce the numbers of people becoming homeless and the impacts this has on both individuals and communities.

"I am pleased to have been able to support this innovative, county-wide project, led by Fenland District Council, and look forward to seeing its impact in the years ahead."

Article added January 6, 2017