HALF a million pounds has been awarded to Reading Borough Council to help prevent homelessness and reduce the number of rough sleepers in the town.

The council’s housing team has been successful in bidding for £200,000 from the government’s Private Rented Sector Access Fund to support households at risk of becoming homeless.

The money will allow the council to appoint four tenancy sustainment officers: one to prevent homelessness; one to reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation; one to develop and maintain relations between the council and private landlords and one to provide resettlement assistance to people moving on from supported accommodation.

Reading will also receive £330,000 from its Rough Sleep Initiative Grant, it was confirmed by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. (MHCLG).

The council was awarded £316,000 from the fund in June last year to support homeless people in the area.

The latest sum, which was provisionally agreed in September pending a review of the council’s progress and performance, will fund the same initiatives in 2019/20 and pay for up to three detox and rehab placements.

Cllr John Ennis, lead councillor for housing, said: "Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing continue to be important issues in Reading, so I am delighted our housing team has been successful in obtaining this government funding.

"We have already seen the positive impact of the council's new homelessness model combined with the extra government cash last year and this funding will enable the continuation of important initiatives to reduce the number of rough sleepers in the town.

"A significant proportion of people in Reading have homes in the private rented sector, and the funding in this area will strengthen the council’s work to build good relations with private landlords and help those tenants at risk of becoming homeless."