Calls for council help increase

Author: The Times   |  

One in four councils in England has reported an increase in homelessness and more than half have experienced a rise in housing benefit claimants as the recession bites.

A snapshot survey also shows that the demand for free school meals and state school places has shot up, and more people have sought help for mental health problems.

The study carried out at the end of last year shows the extent to which the downturn is affecting demand for a range of public services. Almost all authorities who were contacted expect the situation to get much worse in the next few months as more people lose their jobs and homes.

At the same time one in seven councils is making redundancies and one in four has a recruitment freeze. Nearly 75 per cent have already revised their budgets for the current year, mainly because of a loss of income from service and planning charges.

The survey of 150 councils was conducted over three weeks in November by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Society of Local Government Chief Executives. Nine out of ten town halls reported a rise or expected rise in the four million people applying for housing benefit, and eight out of ten had registered or expected an increase in the number of homeless people.

Four million people are already on waiting lists for council homes and the LGA has predicted that this will rise to five million by the end of the year.

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