THOUSANDS of young people in the region are at risk of homelessness as councils face a funding shortfall, a leading charity has warned.

In 2017/18, at least 4,800 under-24s approached North-East councils for help because they were homeless or at risk of being so, according to new figures uncovered by Centrepoint.

The homelessness charity found just four per cent of those were accepted as statutorily homeless, with almost half of them said to have received no documented support from their local authority.

In Durham, 1,099 young people approached the council with 99 of those formally assessed, 18 accepted as homeless and 409 offered support to “prevent and relieve homelessness”.

Figures from Stockton Borough Council suggest that 705 young people approached them with eight of those categorised as homeless while in Middlesbrough, 347 young people were assessed, 52 declared homeless and 295 offered support.

Darlington’s council said 292 young people had reported being homeless or at risk of homelessness, with 21 officially assessed, nine declared homeless and 270 offered support.

In Hartlepool, data showed 125 under-24s approached the council, 70 were assessed, 12 declared homeless and 55 given support while statistics obtained from Redcar and Cleveland found that 229 young people approached the council, 20 were assessed, eight accepted as homeless and 57 given some form of support.

The figures cover the final few months before the Homelessness Reduction Act is implemented, requiring councils to provide support aimed at preventing and relieving homelessness.

Centrepoint believe the numbers receiving support through their councils will subsequently rocket and add to the financial pressures facing local authorities. The charity believes councils across the North-East will need more than half a million pounds - £685,000 – in additional funding to cover the costs of assessing and providing preventative advice to 16 to 24-year-olds.

Chief executive Seyi Obakin said: “Across the North East thousands of young people asked their council for help with homelessness last year, with nearly half receiving no meaningful support.

“Under the Homelessness Reduction Act councils are required to assess and support all young people coming through their doors. The Act is a big step in the right direction, but our analysis suggests the funding provided comes nowhere near what is required for councils to fulfil their new duties.

“The government has been increasingly vocal on the issue of homelessness but without extra funding for councils to meet their new obligations they are risking setting councils up to fail.”