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Issue:- 23 June 2011

Record low in number of homeless families

A NEW service which has changed the way Liverpool City Council deals with homeless people has produced dramatic results.  By the end of the first quarter of this year there were 42 statutorily homeless households, those made homeless unintentionally and in priority need, the lowest figure since current methods of recording started in 2003.  A year ago there were 83 families, and 4 years ago the figure stood at 249.  The number has been reduced since the start of the Council’s Housing Options Service in February 2009. Under this service people who are homeless, or risk becoming so, are given a personal interview with a homelessness prevention officer.  They use a range of options which can prevent homelessness in most cases. These include:-

Helping to prevent evictions by negotiating with landlords or accompanying people who face being evicted at court hearings

Using a specially commissioned mediation scheme to prevent young people being thrown out by their parents

Using the government sponsored Mortgage Rescue Scheme with partners the CAB and Plus Dane Housing

Having a rent deposit / bond scheme to help people access the private rented sector

Working with a range of partners such as English Churches Housing Group who provide support for people to avoid homelessness

Targeting support for rough sleepers so they can get off the street as quickly as possible

“This service is a real success story. On average they get more then 440 cases referred to them every month and in the vast majority of cases they can prevent homelessness.Stopping people losing their homes or dealing sensitively when it does happen, is a priority for us and given these very challenging economic times it is likely to be increasingly so.  However, we will continue to work hard to ensure as few people as possible become homeless.” said Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing.

All the families who are homeless are temporarily accommodated in hostel accommodation. No bed and breakfasts have been used since November 2008.

Because of the success of the homeless strategy, the number of council-run hostels for families has been reduced from three to one. Liverpool Mutual Homes is converting one the Belvidere Road Family Centre into the UK's first eco-friendly homeless hostel.


GROWING your own fruit and vegetables in the current economic climate is becoming increasingly popular. However, there are some pitfalls to be aware of when erecting a greenhouse. With this in mind, RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) has created some helpful tips to prevent budding gardeners from being stung by planning regulations.

John Halman, residential spokesperson for RICS North West and a chartered surveyor at Gascoigne Halman explains:- “Many people are unaware that there are numerous rules and regulations regarding planning permission that need to be considered when building a greenhouse. First and foremost, you need to work out what size greenhouse you can feasibly put in your garden. As long as it takes up less than half of the space of your garden (excluding existing buildings) and measures less than four metres high with a ridged roof, you shouldn’t need planning permission. If you have a small garden, it might be worth considering if you really need a full sized greenhouse or if a mini plastic/canvas covered greenhouse would better suit your needs. These are always a good option to test your gardening skills before making a big investment.”

There are several exceptions which do however require planning permission:-

If the greenhouse exceeds the spatial allowances mentioned above

If the greenhouse will be used for any other purpose than private use, for example, for growing vegetables that will be sold

If the original house is a listed building and the greenhouse is more than 10 cubic metres in volume

If the property is situated in a conservation area, an area of outstanding national beauty, a national park or the broads, and the greenhouse is more than 10 cubic metres in volume

If the greenhouse will be situated less than five metres from the original house and is more than 10 cubic metres in volume

Mr Halman concluded:- “Those who decide to join in with the grow-your-own trend should think carefully about their choice of greenhouse before taking the plunge. Only you could end up having to take it down and start from scratch again, wasting both your time and effort and leaving you out of pocket.  As long as none of the exceptions outlined above apply, then planning permission will not be necessary. Growing your own fruit and vegetables can be a cost effective and organic way to help save some money during the recession, and as long as the correct considerations are made, there should be no problems.”

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