Nearly half a million at risk when coronavirus evictions ban ends this weekend, ministers warned
The ban on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic is lifted this weekend (PA)
Almost half a million people will be placed at risk of eviction when a ban on enforcement action introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic is lifted this weekend, a group of local councils is warning.
They say these include 108,000 lone parents with children, and a further 100,000 young people aged 16 to 24.
The District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 authorities in England responsible for reducing homelessness, say families could face spiralling eviction proceedings starting next week.
A new report from the DCN has found 486,242 households are paying more than half of their income on private rented housing, and, as a result of rising unemployment and reduced salaries, could now be in danger of being made homeless.
It follows figures from Citizens’ Advice showing an estimated four million have fallen behind on rent, council tax or a phone bill during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The DCN are therefore calling on the Government to permanently maintain the increase in housing benefit and lift the benefit cap to prevent short-term problems.
In the longer-term, civic leaders want to see the Treasury's forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review used to provide more funding for homelessness support services and build thousands more council houses.
Councillor Giles Archibald, DCN Better Lives spokesperson, said: “Districts are deeply worried about a potential spiralling in eviction proceedings once the Government’s ban ends this weekend.
“As the cliff edge nears little has been done to ensure the welfare system will support those vulnerable families at risk of homelessness, and we are now at the precipice without a plan.
“The coronavirus crisis will have exacerbated an already challenging situation where many families were struggling to keep a roof over their heads before the pandemic struck.”
He added: “Covid-19 will continue to have a huge impact on jobs and incomes, and while districts will do what they can to support those to remain in their homes, we need government to take steps to mitigate what could be a dramatic rise in homelessness, with many families approaching their local council for support.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government spokesperson said: “The Government has taken unprecedented action to support renters, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been evicted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are working on how best to continue supporting renters and landlords during the pandemic and will make an announcement on the next steps shortly.”