DORSET Council has secured £624,000 funding to help homeless people in the county.

The money, coming from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government's Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP), will help create affordable housing for single homeless people.

It was awarded after the council worked to produce a bid based on current and future need of accommodation in the county.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, portfolio holder for housing at Dorset Council, said: “Since well before Covid-19 we have been wrestling with the dilemma of insufficient property, and how we can keep people out of B&B's and get them into settled accommodation.

“Although we are still awaiting formal notice of how the money is to be spent, this additional funding will help us to create accommodation to provide much-needed affordable housing for single people, who by and large, make up the majority of homeless households in the county."

The council worked with a number of partners on the bid, including from Public Health, Dorset HealthCare, and homelessness support charities including Julian House, Lantern Trust, Bus Shelter and Shelter, probation services, registered housing providers and REACH drug and alcohol support services.

Cllr Carr-Jones said: "“As the repercussions of Covid-19 continue, more people are finding themselves in financial difficulty and are presenting to Dorset Council as homeless.

“The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority.

"Wherever possible, we try to house residents in a community where they have local connections.

"Currently this isn’t always possible, so we work with them to find other suitable accommodation.

"Going forward, we hope to establish more suitable housing right across the Dorset Council area to meet people’s needs.”

The council says it has a statutory duty to provide emergency and temporary accommodation and during the Covid-19 lockdown it saw unprecedented demand for its housing service as it supported rough sleepers and homeless households.

Officials say they are currently overly reliant on B&B placements, particularly in coastal towns where there is more availability.

This is due to the lack of property under its ownership and control, says the council.