Posted 21 May 2020
Councils unlikely to cope with rise in homelessness if the government lifts the eviction ban without protecting renters
The government has today released new figures on homelessness in England. They show:
- before the pandemic, half (51%) of households found to be homeless by their local council left the system without being helped to secure a home. This suggests councils are unlikely to cope with further increases in homelessness triggered by the economic shockwaves of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- between October-December 2019, councils were only able to help one in five (22%) households at risk of homelessness to stay in their existing home
- private renting remains a leading cause of homelessness, and this could get worse when the evictions ban lifts. One in five (19%) households facing homelessness lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private tenancy
- a quarter (24%) of households found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness were privately renting at the time of applying for homelessness support – making this the most unstable type of housing for people to be living in
- at the end of December 2019 there were 88,330 homeless households living in temporary accommodation – this has increased by 43% in the last five years
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Even before the pandemic councils were barely able to help half the homeless people turning to them. The system will buckle if more families become homeless once the evictions ban is lifted in a few short weeks.
“We know private renting is deeply unstable at the best of times. Now we are hearing from renters who are struggling more than ever as jobs are lost and incomes fall because of the crisis. Many people are facing rent arrears and mounting debt.
“If the government lifts the eviction ban without putting in protections for renters, it will unleash a wave of homelessness that will see councils drown and families needlessly suffer. That’s why it’s critical judges are given extra powers to keep people in their homes.”
Anyone who is facing homelessness can get free and expert advice from Shelter by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help or by calling our emergency helpline on 0808 800 4444.
Notes to Editors:
- Following the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) in April 2018 the government (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)) has changed the way it collects data from local councils on statutory homelessness. The HRA has given councils new duties to assess, prevent and relieve homelessness for anyone who is eligible for assistance.
- To calculate the percentage of homeless households who have not been helped to secure a home, we have included households for whom the 56 days have elapsed, households the council have lost contact with, and households who refused the final accommodation. 41% of households were helped to secure a home at the end of the relief duty and 8% of households were no longer owed a relief duty for various reasons. The figures are for October to December 2019. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Relief duty outcomes, Table R1
- 22% of households threatened with homelessness were able to stay in their existing home at the end of the prevention duty between October-December 2019. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Prevention duty outcomes, Table P1.
- The percentage of households facing homelessness who lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private rented tenancy, is the percentage of households found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness who were owed a prevention or relief duty by the council, who lost their last settled home due to the termination of an assured shorthold tenancy from October 2019-December 2019. This is the second-most common reason why households lose their last settled home. This is available at MHCLG, Statutory homelessness live tables, Initial decisions, Table A2.
- The percentage of households found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness who were living in a private rented home is the percentage of households owed a prevention or relief duty who were living in the private rented home at the time of application from October-December 2019. This is available at MHCLG, Statutory homelessness live tables, Initial decisions, Table A4.
- The number of households living in temporary accommodation (including emergency B&Bs and hostels) is at the end of December 2019. We compared this to data from the end of December 2014. This is available at MHCLG, Statutory homelessness live tables, Households in temporary accommodation, Table TA1.