HOMELESSNESS has dramatically increased in parts of Sussex.

According to a report published today by the Sussex Community Foundation charity, homelessness and insecure housing rose by 38 per cent across the county in the years between 2013 and 2018, compared with an eight per cent rise across England as a whole.

But the report, titled Sussex Uncovered, shows some areas have seen a much greater increase.

Adur has seen the biggest rise at 280 per cent, with ten people recorded as homeless in the year of 2013 to 2014, and 38 in 2017 to 2018.

Homelessness cases rose by 255 per cent in Eastbourne from 33 to 117, and by 205 per cent in Rother from 40 to 122.

Hastings also saw an increase of 150 per cent over the same time period, from 104 to 260.

According to the report, the number of people recorded as homeless in Brighton and Hove fell by 3.5 per cent, from 510 to 492.

Chief executive of Sussex Community Foundation, Kevin Richmond, said: “Homelessness is a complex issue and there are a number of reasons behind these figures.

“In part they are due to changes in legislation which require local authorities to assess people in housing need, but they also demonstrate the impact of welfare reforms and universal credit.

“Perhaps most of all they highlight that the cost of housing has increased dramatically in recent years while most people’s income has remained static.

“This is causing real problems for many people.

“The increasing levels of poverty among people who are working is one of the most shocking facets of our time.”

The report also shows there is five per cent less social housing in Sussex than in England as a whole.

The most expensive entry-level properties were found to be in the suburbs of Brighton and Hove, Chanctonbury, West Wittering and Cuckfield, whereas the two most affordable neighbourhoods are in Bognor Regis.

Mr Richmond said: “Our overall finding is that Sussex is a great place to live if you can afford it, but there are many who struggle to get by.”

Jim Deans, who runs the Sussex Homeless Support charity, said many rough sleepers are moved between areas by councils.

He said: “Brighton and Hove City Council will send large numbers of people who they have a duty of care for to places outside the city, like Eastbourne or Newhaven.

“There’s also been a huge increase in places like Hastings.

“I’ve been at food banks in Eastbourne and there were people in the queue who I know from Brighton.”

However, Mr Deans said a lack of affordable housing is not the reason homelessness has increased.

He said: “That is absolute nonsense.

“Because otherwise, why have we got the same epidemic in places like Manchester and Liverpool?

“It is a world problem. No city has fixed it, as it just migrates to another area.”

Mr Dean believes there are multiple factors for people ending up on the streets.

He said: “We have made life so complex.

“It’s so complicated to claim benefits that people just give up.

“You put people in emergency accommodation and they start getting hit with bills and charges, and all the exact same things that drove them to the streets in the first place.

“When someone gets placed in emergency accommodation and it’s far away, what tends to happen is they can’t access support services in that area because they’re not registered there, and they end up back on the streets because they can’t cope.

“They can end up mentally and physically worse, and feel that they have failed, when it’s the system which has failed them.”

A spokeswoman for Eastbourne Borough Council said: “The council is working closely with the other East Sussex housing authorities to continue to maximise opportunities to prevent homelessness.

“This includes working with homeless applicants to explore all of the issues that may have contributed towards their home being at risk, such as resolving benefit queries, managing debt and affordability issues, and referring on to specialist agencies to address various support needs.

“We are working hard to address the shortage of affordable housing and have a Landlord Reward Scheme which offers incentives to private sector landlords to increase the number of private properties available to rent for homeless applicants.

“We remain steadfast in our determination to reduce the number of people sleeping on our streets. Eastbourne Borough Council has a jointly commissioned service with Hastings Borough Council called the Rough Sleeping Initiative, funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“The service has a multi-disciplinary team of specialists from health, housing and social care who provide assertive outreach services to rough sleepers in the town.”

Councillor Gill Williams, Brighton and Hove’s lead for housing, said: “Combating the housing crisis and rough sleeping is a central priority of this administration.

“Here in Brighton and Hove, in every case where we have a duty to offer someone housing, that’s exactly what we do.

“We also help as many people as we can with support and advice to turn their lives around. We have professional services offering specialist help and we work with partners across the city to give people real hope of a decent life away from the streets.

“Our housing team is also responsible for the hidden success story of helping thousands of people who are at risk of homelessness to avoid losing their homes.

“We’ve built hundreds of new council homes in recent years, and we’ve pledged to build 800 more council homes alongside more genuinely affordable housing.

“It’s no secret there is a chronic shortage of affordable, available accommodation in this city, so we sometimes provide accommodation for people in need in other areas of Sussex.

"As your local council, we are doing everything in our power to make a difference. The sad truth is we are working against a national backdrop that makes this huge challenge even more difficult. We won’t give up – addressing the housing crisis and rough sleeping is a key priority.”