A THREE-YEAR strategy has been approved by Cheshire East which re-states its commitment to tackling the issue of rough sleeping and homelessness in the borough.

The new draft strategy has four key areas of focus: to help secure appropriate and affordable accommodation for the homeless; to take steps to prevent homelessness; avoid rough sleeping wherever possible; ensure appropriate support to help people stay in their accommodation.

The statement came as new figures showed the levels of rough sleeping were increasing across the country. In November 2017, estimated figures for the number of people sleeping rough in Cheshire East was 21, up from 12 in 2014, which was the last time the council undertook an estimated count.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “Rough sleeping is a national issue and Cheshire East is not immune to these pressures.

“Thankfully, we have a very low number of people sleeping rough in the borough. However, one person sleeping rough is still one too many.

“Homelessness is an issue that we are determined to deal with in the most positive and sensitive way. Statutory bodies, the voluntary sector, charities and faith groups, as well as local businesses and residents, have all been involved in contributing to our homelessness strategy.”

The announcement of the new strategy follows a range of recent initiatives launched by the council to tackle the problem and the completion, in December, of a nine-week consultation.

The council has been working with a number of groups and organisations to develop ways to reduce the problem of homelessness and provide the right services for the homeless and rough sleepers.

Cllr Arnold added: “The council is determined to tackle the harmful effects of homelessness, such as the impact on family life and children, an individual’s physical and mental health, including the loss of self-esteem and confidence and the loss of employment.

“While homelessness in the borough has risen, from a very low base, this is put down to a number of factors, including family or tenancy issues, rising rents and benefit cuts. However, the number of cases where homelessness has been prevented has also risen year on year.”