Number of rough sleepers in Northampton is double what borough council pledged, report reveals

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The number of rough sleepers in Northampton this year was double the figure the council had aimed for.

Latest figures show there have been 19 rough sleepers in the town in the last year, whereas the target set by the council - which is tasked with helping to rehome them - was a maximum of 10.

Councillor Gareth Eales, deputy leader of the Labour Group at the Guildhall, said: “Looking at the performance it is clear the word best to describe the borough council dealing with rough sleepers on our streets is ‘mediocre’. It’s not awful but it is certainly nothing to boast about either.

“Rarely does the borough council meet its targets on the number of rough sleepers. I hope in future that the borough council can redouble its efforts and meet its target this year.”

The council blamed the high numbers on limited social housing as well as a lack of access to private rented houses and flats.

But council leader Mary Markham (Con, Park) also said a large proportion of the rough sleepers would not have been eligible for help by the local authority because of their nationality.

She said: “Twelve of [the 19 rough sleepers] were from Eastern European countries and with no recourse to public funds, therefore there are extremely limited rehousing options available.”

A spokeswoman from the council said it was difficult to help homeless Eastern Europeans in the usual way as they are not entitled to apply for benefits and housing. She said the 12 in question either did not have a right to reside in the UK, and/or did not have any income and were not entitled to benefits and housing.

The spokeswoman said: “There is a whole framework of legislation which determines who is and who is not entitled to benefits and housing in the EU.

“It is not a single agency’s responsibility to deal with those who are ineligible, there is a joined up approach to such matters and Northampton Borough Council works alongside other agencies such as social care and the UK Border Agency.

“The council is planning to develop a multi-agency rough sleeping strategy that will help to tackle rough sleeping more effectively and reduce the number of rough sleepers as close to zero as possible.”