Surrey

Homeless increase in Runnymede is due to 'hard times'

The number of homeless people in Runnymede has increased significantly over the past three years, according to council figures.

Runnymede Borough Council said the number of people classed as a "priority housing need" had risen from six to 34.

Homeless charities have warned increasing numbers of people were struggling to keep their homes.

Peter Taylor, vice chairman of housing on the council, said the economy was a major factor in the increase.

Between March and June 2008, only six people were considered in priority need, compared with 34 between the same period in 2011.

Mr Taylor said: "There are people falling on hard times as a result of losing their job.

'Rising living costs'

"We know of a number of people where the landlord hasn't been willing to renew the tenancy and a number of people have come to us saying they're homeless.

"Nobody should be homeless [in this day and age], but at the moment we obviously have a duty to deal with anyone who becomes homeless, however they become homeless.

Karen Stalbow, campaign manager with Shelter, said the housing charity had seen its workload rise over recent years.

"We're definitely seeing an increasing number of people coming to use needing help with their housing problems, in much the same way you're seeing an increase in the number of people approaching their local authority," she said.

"I think we're in a place where high unemployment, rising living costs and changes to housing support mean that more and more people, from all walks of life, are struggling to keep a roof over their heads."

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