HOMELESSNESS has been increasing almost three times faster in Bournemouth than the rest of the country.

The number of people bedding down on the town’s streets has gone up by 292 per cent since 2010. This compares to the national average of 102 per cent.

Bournemouth council has admitted that there is “no easy explanation” for the rise and pledged to direct more resources to tackle the problem.

The figures, published in a new council report, also revealed that the number of households in temporary accommodation has doubled from 24 in September to 48 in March.

In total 39 families are living in bed and breakfasts, with 18 of those being placed by the council’s Children’s Social Care department over welfare concerns.

Cllr Robert Lawton, the borough’s housing portfolio holder, told the Daily Echo: “If a person has young children, we are obliged to house them and we put them in a B&B – but as to why we had an influx? I don’t know. There is no easy explanation for this.”

Cllr Lawton added that the feedback from rough sleepers was that they had chosen Bournemouth as “it is a nicer place to live” than many other parts of the country.

“Budgets are under pressure, but we have allocated an extra £200,000 to try and tackle this issue because we have recognised, although it is a national problem, for some reason we have seen this increase in Bournemouth,” said Cllr Lawton.

In December the Echo reported that the number of rough sleepers in the town had trebled in two years.

An annual overnight count, which Cllr Lawton observed for himself, found 47 rough sleepers compared with 16 in 2013 and 31 in 2014.

This led to the authority promising to introduce a “robust enforcement approach” while allocating additional funds.

But Cllr Lawton insisted that the borough "will not be using strong-arm tactics".

“It’s a fine balance between encouraging people to take up the services, which are available to help those in genuine need, and people who find it difficult to engage,” he said.

“We do have some people who don’t want to engage – and there’s only so much you can do – you can’t frogmarch people to a hostel or onto a bus and tell them to go somewhere else.”

Part of the extra funding will be used to take on two additional members of the council’s six-strong rough sleeper team, which proactively tries to help people off the streets.

As well as funding 200 hostel beds for rough sleepers, the council provides the Local Welfare Assistance Fund which helps people in financial difficulty, and has a policy to assist homeless people who are not from Bournemouth return to their home towns.

Residents are urged to report any rough sleepers so that they can receive help as soon as possible. This can be done by calling 0300 500 0914 or visiting www.streetlink.org.uk.