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News Plans fail to cut homelessness

HOMELESSNESS is on the in- crease in Maidstone, despite the in- troduction of strategies to keep families off the streets. The council’s homelessness re-

view made several key findings – including a “significant” rise in the number of decisions about classify- ing homelessness since April 2011. Although levels of rough sleeping

have decreased in Maidstone, while other neighbouring authorities have reported an increase, landlord pos- session claims have steadily risen since 2006 and the number of cases accepted as homeless, eligible for as- sistance and in priority need has also gone up since 2010. Parents unwilling to provide a

home for their grown-up children is the main reason for people present- ing themselves to the council as

VIOLINIST Annie Pullar (19), from Staplehurst, will be among the cream of Kent’s young musicians who will join international virtuoso Chloe Hanslip for Kent County Youth Or- chestra’s summer concert in Mote Hall, Maidstone on August 30. Chloe (26) will also hold a master-

homeless, followed by the termina- tion of tenancies. Although house repossessions

have decreased since 2010, they are still at a higher level than before the financial downturn. The council has agreed that pre-

vention should play a key part in its homelessness strategy and intro- duced a cash incentive for private landlords to offer their property for rent to those on the housing register. Since 2008, the council has housed

3,054 households from the housing register and enabled the delivery of 1,155 affordable new homes within the borough. But in 2013/14, the council had to

investigate 395 cases of homeless- ness, compared with 71 in 2009/10. Those at highest risk are young people aged 16 to 44 (82% of appli-

Musicians join virtuoso Chloe in concert

class the evening before the concert. Conductor George Jackson makes

his KCYO debut with a programme of classics with the theme East Meets West. It includes Fanfare for the Com- mon Man by Copland; the Overture from Carlos Breugnon by Kabalevsky and Violin Concerto by Barber.

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e: Maidstone South August 2014

t: 07710 647966 23

cants since April 2011) while 47% of applicants in the same period were single mothers. However, the num- ber of single male households is also increasing.

Homelessness among young peo-

ple, particularly those aged 16-17, remains a concern for the council and itwould like to see more medi- ation between young people and their families, while providing tem- porary respite accommodation, so they can consider their options. The council’s homeless strategy

points out: “(Homelessness) can have negative knock-on effects on a person’s health and wellbeing and their ability to access education and employment. It can affect social co- hesion within local neighbour- hoods and economic prosperity.” Sofa surfing, sleeping rough and

living in unsuitable or temporary accommodation all contribute to the homeless “mix” and can bring sig- nificant costs to local housing au- thorities at a time of diminishing public resources. National policy changes, such as

welfare reform, are also likely to make it more challenging for the council to deal effectively with local homelessness, it concludes. The council hopes a revision to its allocation scheme will give priority to local residents and those who contribute to the community – with paid or unpaidwork or subscribing to further education or training. From November 2008 to Novem-

ber 2013, there was a 24-25% in- crease in the people claiming housing benefit in the borough.

From left, Annie Pullar with Charlotte Cane and Miranda Stinton, also of Kent County Youth


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