Hereford & Worcester

Worcester homeless figures up by 60%

The number of homeless people has risen by more than 60% in Worcester.

It increased from 338 in 2008/09 to 551 for 2012/13, according to city council figures revealed in a Freedom of Information [FOI] request from the BBC.

Proposals to cut spending by about half for housing-related support, from £1.19m to £616,900, have been revealed by Worcestershire County Council.

Charity Homeless Link said it would urge the authority "to reconsider the level of cuts".

In the FOI request, the city council was asked for the number of people who had applied to the authority for help "because they are homeless in the past year and every year for the past five years".

'Most vulnerable'

The county council said in its response to the challenge of saving £30m in 2014/15, it was having to "prioritise" investment, but it was consulting with the public over the proposals to reduce spending for housing-related support and "no decisions have been made".

County council cabinet member for health and well-being Marcus Hart said: "I'm sure anyone who has any compassion in them knows homelessness services and the type of people they reach out to accept that they are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"[But] we have to ensure that we target the scarce resources that we're going to have moving forward for the best for the taxpayer."

Homeless Link said it urged the authority to "recognise the value of homelessness services".

Its director of policy and communications, Jacqui McCluskey, said it thought the authority's plans would "have a major impact on services for homeless people".

She said: "We totally recognise the pressure that local authorities are under.

"But it doesn't seem to make sense at a time of rising homelessness... that support that helps people to get back on their feet [is] actually cut."

Homeless Link represents and supports organisations and individuals working with homeless people in the UK.

The county council said people could have their say on the proposals before 21 January.

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