A “REVOLVING door” of homelessness is being seen in South Lakeland with “significant pressure” on council services.

South Lakeland District Council has reported a 380 per cent increase in people presenting as homeless since 2012-13.

Applications for homelessness status in that time increased by 93 per cent.

Kendal and Ulverston see the largest number of people coming forward, but homelessness also affects places such as Bowness and Windermere, as well as people coming to South Lakeland from outside the area, according to a report.

In the last year alone, the council paid out £113,000 in emergency payments to more than 200 households in rent arrears and facing eviction. A total of £93,000 has been set aside for 2019-20.

Cllr Jonathan Brook, the cabinet member for housing at SLDC, explained that the “discretionary housing payments” were one way the council could “head off” homelessness “coming down the line”.

He said the council was doing its best but “national trends” were at work and South Lakeland was not exempt.

The largest reason for homelessness in South Lakeland is people on short-term tenancies in the private rented sector running into financial difficulty, racking up rent arrears and facing eviction.

Other reasons included relationship breakdowns, young people leaving the family home, anti-social behaviour, addictions and mental health issues.

The roll-out of Universal Credit – which has seen weekly benefits become a monthly payment and money for housing paid directly to the tenant rather than the landlord – had also led to people getting in arrears, the council said.

Three in every five landlords had seen tenants claiming Universal Credit go into arrears at some point, a national landlords’ association found.

Cllr Brook, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Kendal South and Natland unveiled a new five-year homelessness strategy to councillors on SLDC’s overview and scrutiny covering the period 2019-2024.

Cllr Brook said the council, working with partners, aims to reduce the number of people presenting as homeless.

The council recently set aside a new fund of £461,000 to provide temporary accommodation for families – over and above the commitment to Kendal’s Town View Fields hostel.

The new strategy has three key priorities including homelessness prevention, increasing the supply of accommodation and access to services and tackling the complex needs faced by the homeless.

Cllr Brook said: “The purpose is to prevent homelessness and to secure sufficient accommodation for people who are, or may be at risk of homelessness.

“For a variety of reasons and situations, some peoples circumstances are such that unfortunately there can be something of a revolving door around homelessness. We are certainly seeing an increase in people with complex and multiple needs. It’s placing significant pressure on homeless services.”

“No one organisation on its own is able to deliver successful outcomes in terms of reducing homelessness which we all desire to see.”