MORE than 600 people are waiting for one bedroom accommodation in Sedgemoor, a report has found.

A working party has been set up by Sedgemoor District Council’s scrutiny committee with the purpose of finding strategies to accommodate single people and couples. The 600 figure does not include the ‘hidden homeless’ – those living with family and friends.

A report which went before the scrutiny committee yesterday states: “There is a shortage of one-bedroom accommodation available to single people and couples, with some 200 perceiving there to be little hope of being offered accommodation and having removed themselves from the housing register.”

The report has also found that there are 884 applicants for one-bedroom properties with a supply of 225 available as of April this year and the reports states that anecdotally – there has been a ‘knock on’ effect for rough sleeping.

Jerry Milton, Sedgemoor District Council’s housing options service manager, said: “The reasons for homelessness broadly remain the same every year, however, the loss of privately rented accommodation is becoming an increasing cause of homelessness. Relationship breakdown is more likely as people are experiencing severe financial pressures.” 

The scrutiny committee is seeking to commission a report from the Sedgemoor Citizens' Advice Bureau to find out the demographic of the 884 on the housing register, what can be done to find the ‘hidden homeless’ and question whether enough accommodation is being built.

In the last year Citizens' Advice Bureau has purchased 25 tents and sleeping bags and carried out preventative work to stop potential homelessness, dealing with more than 800 issues.

Taunton Association for the Homeless has 173 spaces and is currently taking between five and 10 people in per week, with roughly three per week coming from prisons or the probation service. The YMCA has approximately 102 beds in Sedgemoor including Canal View for complex needs.

A YMCA spokesperson said: “A culture shift is needed with young people as too many are unaware of housing problems and leave home expecting accommodation.”

Sedgemoor District Council’s housing, health and wellbeing team is looking at where it can bring empty houses back into use. Sedgemoor District Council aims to have 18 per cent of new housing developments classed as 'affordable'.