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‘Avalanche’ of homelessness expected as furlough ends

Vicky Hartley
Written By:
Vicky Hartley

Despite eviction levels at record lows data from the Big Issue suggests a household is still being made homeless every three and half hours.

Campaigners have called for urgent action to prevent an “avalanche of homelessness” at the end of September once Covid-targeted government 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.”

Despite the 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.

However, Ministry of Justice figures show since the government’s March 2020 eviction ban, which allowed cases to be lodged but not heard in court until June this year, repossession numbers were down 34 per cent year-on-year to 2,197 between January and March.

During this period, 40 per cent (2,542) of all landlord possession claims were social landlord claims, and 16 per cent (1,002) were accelerated claims, which can be activated if a tenant has not left by the deadline in the section 21 eviction notice.

Private landlords lodged the largest number of claims at 44 per cent equating to 2,833 claims.

All landlord possession actions have dropped significantly this year due to Covid-related actions, with landlord orders for possession falling 72 per cent and repossessions down 96 per cent on 2020.

In May, the government agreed a series of announcements ahead of the lifting of the possession ban on 1 June for emergency cases. Where an anti-social behaviour ground has been found, notice can be served immediately or after one-month. Landlords may also offer four weeks’ notice if rent arrears have been included on the section eight notice and they are ‘serious’. In cases of fraud, landlords may also offer two weeks’ notice.

Furlough, which has protected millions of jobs, is due to finish by September-end with latest figures suggesting 2.4 million continue to benefit, down from 5.1 million in January.

The cost of furlough from March 2020 to the end of September 2021 is estimated to be £66bn, according to estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

At the pandemic start, estimates suggested more than one in ten workers would become unemployed, where as the current reality is less than one in 20.