Find more homes for homeless plea

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CITY council officers have been asked to examine ways of increasing the amount of available council housing in the district amid fears that the number of people losing their homes could rise.

While the number of people seeking help from the council regarding potential homelessness has dropped in recent months, there are concerns that government changes to housing benefit entitlement announced earlier this year could reverse the trend.

Between April and June, Lancaster City Council received 65 statutory applications for assistance, but that fell to 44 between July and September.

But the government changes mean that from next April some people will be unable to access private rented accommodation.

This includes single people aged 25-34 without children, who will be unable to claim Local Housing Allowance for a one-bedroom flat.

It is thought that this could increase the pressure on social housing and potentially lead to a rise in homelessness.

A report considered by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday says there will be a need to ensure that social housing is provided to those in greatest need.

Deputy council leader and cabinet member responsible for economic regeneration and planning, Coun Janice Hanson, said: “We are trying to bring empty properties back into use and provide more council properties for those in need. People who lose their homes may become homeless and we are quite aware of that.

“If we are to get no outside funding then it is up to the council to look inwardly at what it can do to make more homes available.

“Everyone agrees that we have to do something to help people to get a decent standard of accommodation.”

See the Lancaster Guardian (06-10-11) for full story.