Council to recruit extra staff to help deal with soaring homelessness in East Devon as end of eviction ban leads to ‘horrendous problems’

Extra staff are being recruited by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to help deal with rising homelessness caused by the end of the Government’s eviction ban.

The authority’s cabinet has agreed to hiring two extra housing officers for the next year to address a ‘second wave’ prompted by the pandemic, writes Local Democracy Reporter Joe Ives.

Exmouth Halsdon representative Councillor Megan Armstrong told colleagues the end of the eviction ban on May 31 was causing ‘horrendous problems’ for many people in the district.

EDDC says it has fuelled homelessness in the area – with current housing staff unable to keep up with cases and some even having to take time off because of stress.

A report to cabinet members said an ‘unsustainable’ number of people are approaching the council for help.

Its Housing Options team, which assists those who are homeless or at risk of it, says staff are struggling to keep up and are dealing with caseloads never before seen by EDDC.

As of Thursday, August 5, there were more than 250 open cases – and this is expected to increase as evictions by private landlords soar.

It is hoped two extra housing officers, expected to cost £67,500 over the next year, will help the council keep up with the rising need for help.

Seaton ward member Cllr Jack Rowland told the meeting on September 8: “It’s sad that we’re in a position that we have to consider this, but the staff have been under such pressure and that pressure isn’t going to go away.

“You can only see the situation becoming worse over the remaining months of this year.”

Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh representative Cllr Steve Gazzard said that he had already seen an increase of people sleeping in shop doorways in the town.

Cllr Megan Armstrong added: “There are no easy fixes to this, but we will keep trying as best we can.”

Staff shortages see lifeline Home Safeguard service for vulnerable East Devon residents temporarily outsourced to private company