Blackburn with Darwen, which is magnet for homeless and vulnerable people, is to get a share of £6 million from the government to improve conditions in supported housing.

The £946,000 for Blackburn with Darwen Council will be used to inspect properties used to accommodate them and boost standards.

It follows the success of a £360,000 pilot project in 2020/21.

The new grant from the government's Supported Housing Improvement Programme aims to boost the quality of supported housing and upgrade the standards of assistance offered.

The Department for Levelling Up is providing £6 million to Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Hull and Birmingham Councils to address the problems as part of its £20 million Supported Housing Improvement Programme.

It will concentrate on provision, including for those at risk of or who have experienced homelessness; people recovering from drug or alcohol dependence; people with experience of the criminal justice system; young people with a support need (such as care leavers or teenage parents); people with mental ill-health; and autistic people needing support.

The cash award follows Blackburn with Darwen Council approving a change in planning rules to make it harder to create houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in the two towns.

Numbers have rocketed locally in the past decade from 129 properties, including hostels, to 390.

Bed spaces in 2015 were estimated at 506 and now there are around 1,170.

Increased enforcement will drive up housing standards and level of help for vulnerable people in supported accommodation and ensure unscrupulous landlords are deterred.

The government believes such schemes should provide them with the skills and confidence needed to enter longer-term accommodation and live more independent lives.

The programme finances councils to use enforcement measures, such as inspections, to improve quality and value for money in the provision of supported housing by landlords.

The leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cllr Phil Riley, said: "We are pleased to have secured this significant new funding for such vital work.

"This is a complicated problem but we can now build on earlier successes and look at new initiatives to scrutinise and improve standards in this sector of the housing market."

Minister for rough sleeping and housing, Eddie Hughes MP, said: "While there are many excellent supported housing providers in the market, we know there are a minority that are shamelessly taking advantage of vulnerable residents, and we are committed to ending this practice.

"This funding will allow Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Hull to build on their successful pilot schemes.

"This work is already benefitting local communities by tackling poor practice and improving conditions for vulnerable tenants."

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said:“It’s not right that some landlords are providing poor quality accommodation and insufficient support for vulnerable supported housing residents, often at high cost to the taxpayer.

“That’s why I welcome this additional investment to improve the condition of supported living accommodation across Darwen for the benefit of the residents living in these properties.”

Further funding awards from the £14m remaining in the scheme's cash pot will be made to councils around the country in the autumn.