Advertisement
Housing

‘We must act now’: The number of households threatened with homelessness doubled after lockdown

Lord John Bird will lead a homelessness debate in the Lords on Thursday as new statistics show a surge in households facing eviction in England.

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird will lead calls in the House of Lords for immediate action to prevent a mass homelessness crisis as new statistics show there was a surge in families facing eviction when Covid restrictions lifted.

More than 3,000 households were threatened with homelessness or lost their home after being served an no-fault eviction notice – when a landlord can evict without offering a reason – in April and June 2021, up 105 per cent year on year.

In total 66,000 families needed help from their council to prevent or relieve homelessness over the three months, official statistics show. Of those, more than 30,000 needed help specifically to prevent homelessness. The figure is an 18 per cent rise in just a year and is “likely to reflect” the removal of most eviction protections in May 2021, according to the report from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

With further Covid support removed in recent weeks, such as the £20 universal credit increase and the end of the furlough scheme, and rising energy prices, Lord Bird is warning immediate action is needed to stop mass homelessness this winter.

“We must act now to support people to stay in their homes – otherwise they will slip into the costly and mentally damaging world of homelessness,” said Lord Bird.

The 66,000 households in England needing support from councils is a one per cent rise on the same quarter in 2020, which statisticians described as the “peak of the impact of Covid-19”.

Advertisement
Advertisement

There was a fall in the number of single households that needed support from councils, down almost nine per cent on April to June 2020, partly due to impact of the Everyone In scheme.

However, there was a significant year-on-year increase in households with children that needed support, up by a third to 20,850.

The impact of Covid could still be felt in the most common reason given for homelessness. Almost 10,000 households needed support from local authorities after being unable to stay with family or friends..

But those households in rented accommodation saw the impacts of the pandemic first-hand. The statistics show a 98 per cent increase in the number of households asking councils for help as landlords were wishing to sell or re-let their property.

Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at Crisis, said: “These figures show the first signs of what we feared – once emergency measures were lifted, households began to feel the full force of the financial pressures of the pandemic and we’re now seeing a surge in people experiencing homelessness.”

The Westminster government has announced measures to prevent homelessness in recent days, unveiling a £65m support package for vulnerable renters who have racked up rent arrears during the pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced £640m of annual funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping at the Budget.

Big Issue Foundation

Donate to support vendors today

Your gift today will mean Big Issue vendors will get the support they need to progress forward in life. You will be supporting vendors in key areas including housing, finance, mental health and employment.

However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported last week that almost one million renters are in arrears.

Lord Bird has warned more support will be necessary to prevent surging homelessness this winter. The Big Issue has launched the Stop Mass Homelessness campaign urging a focus on helping renters with £360m in rent arrears as well as calling for an end to no-fault evictions.

The campaign is asking for more support to help people transition into jobs and training in sustainable industries too.

Bird will debate the issue with peers in the Lords on Thursday.

“It is vital that they are taking preventative action to ensure people will not be left homeless this winter,” added Bird. “The end of furlough and the lift of the eviction ban have posed a very grave danger to everyday families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of Covid-19 poverty.

“However, further action must be taken if we are to prevent a mass homelessness crisis.. The cost of fully paying off rent arrears is substantially less than the cost of letting someone slip into homelessness. So, that is why I am urging the government today to take action and stop mass homelessness.”

Support The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign by signing our petition, becoming a community champion or writing to your MP or local council to ask for their support. Head here for details on how to get involved.

Advertisement

Support The Big Issue Winter Appeal

Big Issue vendors can’t work from home and with severe weather warnings on the cards, they face a very tough and uncertain Winter period ahead.

Recommended for you

Read All
Cladding firms could be banned from the UK if they don't pay to fix building safety crisis
Housing

Cladding firms could be banned from the UK if they don't pay to fix building safety crisis

Under-fire Clarion Housing Association boss is ‘ashamed’ at state of social homes
Social Housing

Under-fire Clarion Housing Association boss is ‘ashamed’ at state of social homes

The Vagrancy Act: What is it and why is it facing calls to be scrapped?
Housing

The Vagrancy Act: What is it and why is it facing calls to be scrapped?

Peers vote to scrap the Vagrancy Act in controversial government bill
Vagrancy Act

Peers vote to scrap the Vagrancy Act in controversial government bill

Most Popular

Read All
Government branded 'disgrace' after bid to strengthen Sarah Everard inquiry voted down at 12.30am
1.

Government branded 'disgrace' after bid to strengthen Sarah Everard inquiry voted down at 12.30am

What are the Kill the Bill protests?
2.

What are the Kill the Bill protests?

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'
3.

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'

The Met Police is being sued for not investigating a Downing Street Christmas party
4.

The Met Police is being sued for not investigating a Downing Street Christmas party