A COUNCIL claims it has prevented nearly 300 families from falling into homelessness in the last six months.

Epping Forest District Council says its homeless prevention service stopped 290 families in “priority need” from becoming unintentionally homeless.

However, in the past nine months, 54 have become homeless.

The homelessness prevention service team arrange temporary accommodation should a private or a council housing tenant become at the risk of homelessness.

Residents applying for a council home are generally placed in temporary accommodation if there is a housing shortage while their application is processed.

A spokesman said: “During the last nine months, the council has accepted a ‘full homelessness duty’ to secure accommodation for the 54 households who we have been unable to help prevent their homelessness.

“Like many councils in the eastern region, we continue to experience an acute demand being placed on our homelessness service. However, despite this high demand, our homelessness prevention service has been successful in preventing homelessness for 290 households that sought the council’s assistance in the last six months alone.”

Epping Forest District council has also been working with other authorities across Essex and were successful in their bid for £890,000 from central government’s trailblazer fund. This gives them the opportunity to employ another worker to help their service.

The figures that were recorded quarterly show that in September 2016, Epping Forest had 10 people being accepted as homeless in priority need, with nine in June and March 2016.

Rachel Poulter, manager at Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “People in the Epping Forest District Council area who are homeless or likely to become homeless can come to the CAB for advice on their rights and assistance with claiming any welfare benefits they may be entitled to and with managing their debts.

“We would encourage them to approach the CAB for advice before money problems escalate to the point where they are falling behind with their rent or council tax.”