MORE people are on the brink of losing their homes in Darlington due to a "perfect storm" of financial hardship, welfare reforms and a reduction in public services, a new report has claimed.

The Darlington Preventing Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy claims there were more than 1,200 new cases of people seeking help from Darlington Borough Council last year, a six per cent rise on the 12 months previous.

The report also sets out the authority's five year action plan which will aim to increase awareness and access to services, provide suitable accommodation and support options, and reduce rates of repeat homelessness.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said the findings were "deeply worrying" and although a lot of the issues were caused by national factors, residents will be "rightly disturbed" about what is happening in the town, whilst homeless charity Shelter said more than 2,200 people in the North East are now homeless.

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The report found Darlington has seen no increase in rough sleeping despite there being a "public perception" that it has increased as a result of the increase of begging in the town centre.

It also recognised that although effective services are being delivered across the town, there is "more to do".

The report states: "The number of people who are approaching us for help continues to increase and the uncertainty in the economy has only seen a limited recovery for some sections of the community.

"As a result, financial hardships along with the impact of the welfare reforms and the reduction in public services have combined to push more people to the brink of losing their homes.

"Our response has been to focus more on how we help people at an earlier stage and on giving them the most appropriate help.

"Over the next five years we want to ensure that we continue to strive to minimise the risk of homelessness and effectively support those who become homeless back to a stable home and an independent life."

Ms Chapman said: "I think it is deeply worrying. We have got some excellent services to support the homeless in Darlington, but people will rightly be disturbed about what is happening.

"People are approaching the local authority because they are on the verge of being homeless – this could be due to a number of reasons such as family breakdowns and welfare issues, but it is shocking.

"It is a national issue but we need to be doing better in supporting people who are homeless and on the verge of being homeless."

Tracy Guy, Shelter North-East Hub manager, said: “The perfect storm of welfare cuts, rising rents and a severe shortage of social housing has meant more and more people are facing homelessness.

"Over 2,200 people in the North East are now homeless, this include people sleeping rough on the streets and families stuck in temporary accommodation, including hostels and B&Bs.

“The government has to tackle the root causes of the housing crisis to have any hope of getting it under control."

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “We have been delivering the homelessness prevention agenda since 2010 and work closely with our partners, in particular the voluntary sector.

"This is done through the Darlington Gateway which aims to prevent homelessness whenever possible, so help and support is available to those who are homeless or at threat of homelessness.

“The excellent work done by the outreach team from 700 Club and the council’s housing options team also means that potential rough sleepers are quickly identified and offered the help they need to find accommodation and move forward. “

Members of the public can report anyone they fear may be rough sleeping to the council’s housing options team or the 700 Club by calling 01325 405333 or 01642 524552 (emergency out of hours number) or by emailing

There is also a national helpline, Streetlink, on 0300 500 0914 which provides a 24 hour service to report rough sleepers, which will be passed immediately to the council and the 700 Club.

More information can also be found on the council’s website at: