MORE than 150 households in Worcester were assessed as either being homeless or at risk of homelessness last winter.

Statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) show 75 families or individuals identified as homeless in the city between October and December 2020, nine fewer than the 84 recorded for the same spell in 2019.

That means Worcester performed better than the national trend of a slight rise in cases, although the number of households that were eligible for council help due to being at risk of homelessness in winter 2020 was slightly up to 79 from 76 the year before, at odds with the 18.5 per cent drop in such cases nationally.

The number of Worcester households in temporary accommodation was 53, another number that was consistent with last year despite an eight per cent rise nationally.

Jonathan Sutton, chief executive of St Paul’s Hostel, Worcester, said the numbers were encouraging but argued much more needs to be done on a national level to deal with Britain’s housing shortage and effects of Covid-19 rules preventing evictions coming to an end later this year.

“These figures show the measures put in place through the pandemic – for example the evictions moratorium and income support schemes – have had a positive effect,” he said.

“Equally we must take heed because when these measures end this spring and summer then we can expect a spike with people threatened with homelessness – some of which may turn into an increase in the small but very visible part of the homeless iceberg, rough sleeping.

“The 53 households living in temporary accommodation is a blessing and a curse. While it reflects the admirable efforts of housing teams and providers of temporary accommodation it also highlights the acute need for suitable, sustainable accommodation solutions.

“The prevailing factors that lead to homelessness can only addressed by national government and government know what needs to be done, to address poverty.

“It has an uneven impact children and young people and while the capital investment of government through the Next Steps Accommodation Programme has helped, demand still far outstrips supply.”

A Worcester City Council spokesman said: “We help hundreds of households who are facing homelessness every year and we would encourage anyone who is at risk of becoming homeless to contact us as soon as possible.

“The longer we have to help you, the more chance we have of being successful.”

An MHCLG spokesman said the figures showed their actions had helped to protect renters, rough sleepers and other vulnerable people from the impact of the pandemic.

He added: “Renters continue to be protected, including through six-month notice periods and a ban on the enforcement of evictions, except in the most serious circumstances.

“But there is more still to do, and we will continue to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping with over £750 million funding this year alone.”

Worcester City Council’s housing team can be contacted on 01905 722233 or at the Trinity Street Housing Advice Centre, which is open 10am-4pm Monday-Friday.