Homelessness has increased by 40pc in north Norfolk in the last year - despite more than 500 homes being left empty.

An alarming 228 households in the district are either already homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Of these households, 75 are currently in temporary accommodation paid for by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) - a third more than last year.

The number of children in temporary accommodation has also risen by almost 50pc – with 85 children living in "unstable" accommodation located outside of the district.

This is all happening in North Norfolk - where in a housing crisis 542 privately owned properties sit empty.

And this number of empty properties does not include the 21pc of houses in the region which are second homes and holiday lets.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Homes in north Norfolk - pictured is Jetty Street in CromerHomes in north Norfolk - pictured is Jetty Street in Cromer (Image: Antony Kelly)

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Councillor Wendy Fredericks is NNDC's deputy leader and portfolio holder for housing and people’s services.

She said the situation for families faced with homelessness is “overwhelmingly disruptive, challenging, and mentally harmful”.

Miss Fredericks said: “North Norfolk is in the grip of a devastating housing emergency which is damaging the lives and opportunities for hundreds of households."

“There is not just a human cost to using temporary accommodation, there is also a major financial cost. The council is only able to reclaim a small proportion of the amount it spends on nightly bed and breakfast-type accommodation.

“If the council places a household in a bed and breakfast costing £700 per week we are only able to claim £98 of that cost back.”

Fakenham & Wells Times: Wendy Fredericks, North Norfolk District Council's deputy leader and portfolio holder for housing and people’s servicesWendy Fredericks, North Norfolk District Council's deputy leader and portfolio holder for housing and people’s services (Image: NNDC)

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Miss Fredericks said the council’s forecasted spending on temporary accommodation is £1.3m this year, compared to the £371,000 it spent last year.

Of North Norfolk’s 56,000 homes, 49pc are owned outright, 21pc are second homes and holiday lets, and 13pc are social housing.

“We have over 2,500 households on the housing list and the severe shortage of socially rented homes means on average there are 150 bids for each property advertised through Your Choice Your Home, with additional pressures for family homes with some properties receiving over 300 bids,” Miss Fredericks said.

“We need government funding urgently to pay for temporary accommodation and to buy land to facilitate more affordable homes to be built for local residents.”

To report a home as empty, search for 'Report an Empty Home' on the North Norfolk District Council website (www.north-norfolk.gov.uk)