Cuts and Universal Credit behind rise in Eastbourne homelessness, says council

Cuts to mental health services, a lack of affordable housing, and Universal Credit are among the factors behind the rise in homelessness in Eastbourne, according to the council.

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 2:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 5:17 pm
A homeless man in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)
A homeless man in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)

This comes after it was revealed the town has among the highest rates of homelessness in the south east, and the second highest in Sussex.

New figures released today (November 22) by Shelter found there are at least 386 homeless people in Eastbourne – and at least 41 of these are currently sleeping rough.

Responding to this, a spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council said, “There has been an increase in homelessness and rough sleeping in many towns and cities in the UK, including Eastbourne.

“There are many reasons why, but undoubtedly funding cuts to mental health and substance abuse services, the lack of affordable housing and the impact of Universal Credit are all playing a part in the increases being seen.

“Not all rough sleepers are homeless, but many have numerous needs requiring multiple approaches. Issues include drug or alcohol dependency and/or a mental health disorder(s). Council officers are working with a wide range of partners to address these concerns.

“Eastbourne Borough Council and Lewes District Council have a combined Street Community Strategy, launched in September 2018, which makes a commitment to tackling rough sleeping in our communities, in collaboration with key partners including Housing, Adult Social Care, mental health services, Neighbourhood Services and the Police.”

They continued, “We have appointed a dedicated rough sleeping outreach worker to coordinate the work around this, including ensuring all those within the street community are re-engaged with the services they need.

“We complete regular visits to sleep sites to encourage clients, who often have complex needs, to work with the services that they need and minimise impact of their behaviour on the community.

“We were also successful in a joint bid with Hastings Borough Council to set up an accommodation pathway and intensive support service for rough sleepers.

“This service offers appropriate accommodation solutions to the most entrenched rough sleepers.”