THE public are invited to have their say on Reading 's homelessness problem as part of a consultation launched yesterday (Monday, August 5).

Reading Borough Council is reviewing its current Homelessness Strategy and wants to hear the views of residents as well as a wide range of charities, voluntary groups and organisations.

The new strategy will set out how the council and its partners will tackle and prevent homelessness over the next five years.

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Informal meetings with internal and statutory partners have identified three key themes which people are being asked to comment on in the consultation, including: early intervention to prevent and reduce homelessness; increased access to suitable accommodation and support for those who are vulnerable to recurring homelessness.

The consultation will take place over eight weeks and will include residents, customers of Housing Needs and homelessness services, external partner organisations, community and voluntary sector services, local businesses and commissioned homelessness services.

The consultation can be found on the council website.

Cllr John Ennis, Reading's lead councillor for Housing, said: "The council has achieved a lot since the current Homelessness Strategy was launched three years ago and there has also been some significant changes in legislation.

"Now is the right time to take stock of what has been achieved, look at where we are now and set our future path for tackling homelessness, which continues to be a major issue in Reading.

"Reading invests a large amount of resources into preventing homelessness and supporting those who find themselves homeless, but the council cannot act alone.

"I hope everybody with an interest in this important matter takes up the invitation to take part in this consultation."

The council has said that almost 180 households were in emergency B&B accommodation in Reading three years ago, but that figure has dropped to 10 or fewer since November 2018.

This, combined with changes in legislation through the Homeless Reduction Act 2017, has prompted a review of Reading's Homelessness Strategy.

Comments on the proposed new strategy can be made here.