The number of calls to Stevenage Borough Council about emergency or temporary housing need has increased, according to the council’s leader.

In total, 1,692 households are waiting for accommodation on the council’s housing list, with 163 families being supported in temporary, emergency or bed and breakfast accommodation at present.

Last week alone SBC housed 10 families, and are calling for more patience from those trying to use their housing services, insisting they are “working to update housing applicants quickly.”

But the reality of the situation was laid bare after the council admitted they “simply do not have enough council-owned stock” to meet the demand for housing in the borough.

In a statement posted online, a spokeswoman for the council said: “As you may appreciate, the demands placed on services during this current climate have been immense and we are working hard to try and update applicants as soon as possible.

“We would, however, encourage applicants to continue to take steps to source accommodation independently within the private rented sector as this is likely to be an option that will offer a quicker resolution to housing need.”

The council goes further to say it will consider providing financial assistance (advance rent and a deposit) to those who find suitable and affordable housing in the private market.

Following the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has announced it will be providing an extra £151 million to support rough sleepers and prevent homelessness from April 2021.

The national lockdown is ending next week to be replaced with new, tougher restrictions on Hertfordshire as a whole.

Reflecting on the news the town will be under Tier Two restrictions, Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We recognise that people will be disappointed that we went into lockdown in Tier One, and have come out in Tier Two, particularly as Stevenage has had relatively low levels of COVID.

“We know this continues to be a very testing time for our local community and business, and we will be doing all we can to support the town and keeping cases as low as possible, and making the case to government for funding for local services and businesses.

“We continue to face some challenging times in the weeks ahead.

“Being in this ‘High Alert’ category means we all need to keep playing our part in tackling the pandemic. This includes restrictions on socialising with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, and restrictions for hospitality businesses.

“It is clear this will go on into the New Year and possibly beyond.

“Our business community and residents are finding the changing restrictions challenging and at times difficult, but we need to do what we can to protect each other and those who are vulnerable.

“We will continue to support our NHS colleagues who are doing a fantastic job under the circumstances.

“We have all been given hope by announcements about vaccines in recent days and now we all need to follow the guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading the virus until the vaccine is widely available”.