One UK household is being made homeless every three-and-a-half hours, new analysis by The Big Issue has revealed, as evictions and repossessions have continued throughout lockdown.
Campaigners have called for urgent action to prevent an “avalanche of homelessness” this autumn once Covid-related support ends.
“More people are at risk of homelessness now than at any time in living memory,” warned Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue. “Against a background of 1.9 million jobs at risk of permanent loss from the pandemic, this should be ringing alarm bells throughout the country.”
Sign our petition to #StopMassHomelessness
Despite an eviction ban from the government, there were 370 mortgage repossessions and 262 rental evictions in England and Wales in the first 90 days of the year. This equates to more than seven households a day being made homeless.
In response to these shocking findings, The Big Issue has launched a campaign – Stop Mass Homelessness – to prevent the immediate threat of mass evictions and invest for the future. The campaign includes a nine-point plan with short and longer-term proposals to keep people in their homes and increase Britain’s supply of affordable housing.
Even if their income recovers, it will be impossible to pay off all this debt while staying on top of other billsAlicia Kennedy
Measures include introducing a system of means-tested grants or interest-free loans, halting repossessions and suspending evictions until a Renters’ Reform Act can be passed.
Bird added: “Millions of people in this country are behind in household bills, half a million are in rent arrears and nearly 200,000 homeowners are in financial difficulty.
“The government was quick to support us when they put over 37,000 homeless people into accommodation in the first lockdown. We need a similar radical approach to prevent an avalanche of homelessness this autumn.”
The Big Issue’s campaign has already found support from charities and housing campaigners.
Alicia Kennedy, director of renters campaign group Generation Rent, said: “The number of private renters getting universal credit has doubled since the start of the pandemic, and the level of support it provides is not enough to cover the rent. That means people getting behind on rent and at risk of eviction.
“Even if their income recovers, it will be impossible to pay off all this debt while staying on top of other bills.
“The government must step in and clear this rent debt and let renters get on with their lives. Otherwise society will pay a higher price through a homelessness crisis.”
Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at homelessness charity Centrepoint, added: “Throughout the pandemic many people found themselves in rent arrears through no fault of their own.
“Government interventions like covering arrears with grants and keeping the £20 universal credit uplift were essential in preventing homelessness at an even greater scale than we saw, particularly during the first few months of Covid-19.
“With lockdown being lifted it’s easy to think the economic consequences of coronavirus will disappear too. Unfortunately that is not the case and that is why this campaign for substantial long-term support for tenants at risk of eviction because of arrears is so important.”
You can add your voice to The Big Issue’s campaign to Stop Mass Homelessness by signing our petition calling on the government to take meaningful action: bigissue.com/stop-mass-homelessness
Read more about our 9-point plan here.
Join the conversation and share your support using the hashtag #StopMassHomelessness