200,000 children under threat of eviction this winter

Posted 23 Dec 2021

Shelter urges public to support its urgent appeal as thousands of families risk homelessness 

Shelter estimates that 200,000 children living in privately rented homes are at risk of being evicted this winter – equivalent to one in every 50 children in England.

The extensive polling which was carried for the charity by YouGov found that 104,000 private renting families had received an eviction notice in the last month or are currently behind on their rent – putting them in real danger of losing their home.

In response Shelter is calling on the public to support its frontline advisers who are working seven days a week to help as many families as possible to find, or keep hold of, a safe home.

From the same polling, Shelter estimates that 55,000 children, along with their families, have already been evicted or removed from their homes in the last three months. With the eviction ban now over and the £65 million fund for rent arrears not enough to reach everyone struggling, the charity is concerned even more eviction notices will start rolling in as living costs rise and debts mount for many. 

The fear of becoming homeless is looming large over family life, with the Shelter’s research also showing:  

  • Seven in ten private renting families (71%) would struggle to find another home this winter if they lost theirs. 

  • One in five renting parents (21%) say their children know they are struggling to pay rent. 

  • Shockingly, one in ten parents (11%) said their children worry about becoming homeless.  

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “No child should have to worry about losing their home this Christmas, let alone 200,000. But so many families will spend every day with the threat of eviction looming over them, not knowing if they will still have a home next year. 

“Eviction notices have started dropping on doormats and our services are working round the clock to help families who have nowhere else to go. Like it has before - the government needs to intervene to keep people safe in their homes. We urgently need more support for renters to protect them from eviction this winter. 

“Thousands of families are teetering on a cliff edge. It’s only with the public’s support that we’ll be able to keep answering calls and help as many of them as possible keep the bailiffs at bay.” 

Kat, 48, lives in Worthing with her three sons aged 15, 12 and eight. She is a trained midwife but has been caring full time for a relative with Parkinson’s and dementia. The family have an eviction notice with an end date of 18 January and have been unable to find another property. Kat has found that, while not always overt, discrimination exists. Estate agents and landlords have often made it impossible for Kat to rent due to claiming Housing Benefit or because she has three children. 

Kat said: “My children have a right to feel safe and secure. They know we’re on the verge of being made homeless and that has a direct impact on their psychological wellbeing. It’s absolutely horrible. Even my eight-year-old knows we’re being evicted.  As a parent, you’re totally helpless.

“The children are scared because they know after Christmas we’re going to have to be out.  I say to them, let’s enjoy being here while we can, we’ll put a lovely Christmas tree up and we’ll make it look beautiful.  And then after Christmas, we will be prepared to find somewhere else.  

“I am really scared though, that we’re going to be homeless and be put somewhere really horrible. I’m scared the kids will think it’s my fault. I don’t want them to think it’s something I’ve done that has put them into that situation.” 

According to the latest government figures 126,000 children are already homeless in England, and many of them will be spending Christmas day with their families in shoddy emergency hostels and run-down B&Bs. To help Shelter in its work to prevent more children being tipped into homelessness, visit shelter.org.uk/donate


Notes to editors:

About Shelter: Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything. Learn more at www.shelter.org.uk.

About Shelter’s Winter Appeal 2021: Join Shelter now in the fight against homelessness and bad housing. The people who use Shelter’s services are giving it all they can to fight
for a safe home. By giving a little you can help Shelter do a lot - the public’s ongoing generosity means the charity can keeping providing support and advice to thousands of people this winter and beyond. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/donate

About the Research: All data, unless otherwise stated is from research carried out by YouGov for Shelter. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th November – 6th December 2021 and was carried out online. 3,642 GB Adults (18+) in private rented accommodation responded, 1,110 of whom had children in the household. Data was weighted to be representative of private renters. Reference to people removed from their homes relates to those removed from their home without being given the proper notice period and/or without the correct procedures being followed by their landlord/letting agent.

Population estimates have been calculated by Shelter using EHS data on private renters and ONS mid-year population estimates for children. Shelter has defined families as households with children living with them.

The number of homeless children combines the number recorded as living in
temporary accommodation (124,290) and the number of homeless children
reported as accommodated by social services (1,923) in response to our
FOI to local authorities.