ALMOST 700 people have been helped to find new homes in the private rented sector thanks to a partnership initiative between three Somerset councils.

Somerset West Landlords and Tenants (SWeLT) is part of the private sector housing partnership set up by Sedgemoor, Taunton Deane and West Somerset councils and in the past year has helped 675 people find somewhere to live.

In all, 333 households were found new homes in privately-rented accommodation through SWeLT, which has launched a number of initiatives to make the process easier.

The councils also helped 133 households that were either homeless or about to lose their home find social housing.

Broken down by district, the figures show that in Sedgemoor 93 households were helped into the private rented sector and 33 into social housing; in Taunton Deane 118 were housed in the private sector and 82 into social housing while respectively in West Somerset 122 and 18 households were helped.

SWeLT acts as a one-stop shop for landlords and tenants providing, among other services, free help, support and advice, access to low cost loans and bond guarantee schemes.