TOWN Hall chiefs have approved a five-year homelessness and rough sleeping strategy for the borough.

Warrington Borough Council’s cabinet backed the plan, which will run from 2020 to 2025, at its meeting on Monday.

It has been informed by the homelessness review, with four strategic priorities identified.

They comprise prevention and relief of homelessness, accommodation, support and rough sleeping.

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, portfolio holder for housing, public health and wellbeing, said it gives her ‘no pleasure’ to say that homelessness remains a crisis for too many people in the borough.

And the Labour politician slammed the ‘severe cuts’ from the Tory Government, along with the ‘broken system’ of universal credit.

She added: “Last year, despite our best efforts, we also saw a large rise in the number of people sleeping rough in the town, from four to 21, and we’ve been working very hard to get this number down, with new facilities opening.

“But it’s going to take time to get these numbers down and I think, as far as any of us round this table are concerned, even one person sleeping rough is one person too many.

“Let’s be clear that whatever the result of Thursday’s general election, this Labour administration will still be here to offer support for our most vulnerable residents, but if we end up with more of the same from the Conservatives we are going to be fighting a continuing battle without the tools we need.”

Conservative Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, said the Government thinks rough sleeping is a ‘moral stain’ during his visit to Warrington on Tuesday.

“We’re one of the wealthiest and most successful countries in the world and we don’t want to see anybody sleeping rough on our streets,” he said.

“We have made a manifesto commitment to eliminate rough sleeping over the course of the next Parliament, if we are elected.

“Rough sleeping is actually now in decline, last year it fell for the first year in several years.

“In those parts of the country where we are focusing our interventions through the rough sleeping initiative, which includes Warrington, it is succeeding.

“The work that we are doing is succeeding but there is clearly a lot more we need to do.”