I SEE Bolton conservatives (Support the homeless Jan 1, 2022) have nailed their colours to the mast on solving homelessness in Bolton; focusing on getting homeless people jobs and training courses.

Set against the evidence in Bolton on how to reduce homelessness it’s the equivalent of Norman Tebbit’s ‘Get on your bike and look for work’ of 1981.

To reduce homelessness in Bolton the key issues are; action on the key causes of homelessness, action to prevent homelessness, and increasing the number of supported housing tenancies in Bolton. Not one jot of mention from the Bolton conservatives.

Anyone in government locally needs to be remonstrating hard at national government for its failure on the causes of homelessness. The harsher welfare regime and increased poverty means that rough sleeping has been increasing around 40% as a percentage of homeless people these last five years.

It’s got harder to sleep on sofas as so many struggle.

A third of county court housing hearings monitored in England over the latter part of 2021 cited rent arrears where landlords are seeking to evict, according to the findings by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Whilst announced in late October 2021, councils will get finance from government to help support the rent arrears crisis, it does not meet the huge gap in funding central government has carved out from 2010 to 2018. Funding to councils in this area has been cut by half and yet homelessness has increased in this period by 165% WPI economics have shown.

It’s shockingly hard for people to get legal help when faced with loss of accommodation. It’s clear too many people are being given notices to quit their tenancies with no rights of redress. In Bolton data shows the most common reason people give for losing their accommodation is that a friend or relative can no longer provide support or because they have a relationship breakdown. Among people looking for homelessness support here there is a high number of people with mental health issues, antisocial behaviour records, substance misuse, chronic physical illness and domestic abuse.

This is not a jobs issue. Homelessness is where you find high suicide risk.

Those other key matters identified in Bolton must be attended to such as health and community services. Bolton housing organisations and charities are doing good work.

A key is homelessness prevention and the Bolton Tories say nothing on this. Another key is supported housing. Key workers support new tenants week in week out. Without support, tenancies tend to fail.

The public expect councillors to be involved in implementing actions that work, driving down homelessness, so more people in Bolton can have the chance of a good life. Understanding the causes, with plans that work for homelessness - that’s what Bolton needs.

Cllr Sue Haworth