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Coronavirus: Half a Million on Brink of Homelessness Due to Pandemic, Councils Warn

Published: 7 May 2020

Coronavirus: Half a Million on Brink of Homelessness Due to Pandemic, Councils Warn

Almost half a million households are at high risk of becoming homeless as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, new analysis for the District Councils’ Network reveals today.

The DCN, which represents 187 councils responsible for tackling homelessness, is calling for the housing crisis to take centre stage in the Government’s exit strategy in order to prevent a huge surge in homeless households as incomes fall as a result of changes to people’s employment circumstances during the pandemic.

Families at risk are likely to include lower earners that are on the frontline helping fight the coronavirus crisis across the health, food and logistic sectors.

New analysis reveals that there are 486,242 households paying over half of all their income on private rented housing, and could be most at risk as incomes fall and the current ban on evictions is lifted.

Within this large half a million group, councils are especially concerned for:

  • 108,000 lone parents with children, representing 20 per cent of all lone parents renting in the private sector
  • 100,000 16-to-24 year olds, almost 20 per cent of all young people renting in the private rented sector
  • 160,000 households with incomes less than £15,000

Despite the important additional help from the Government more people are already approaching councils at risk of homelessness, who are working around the clock to help those hit hardest, and are expecting this to increase even more once the health emergency subsides.

The DCN is calling on the Government to take action now on the housing crisis to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent a homelessness peak in the months ahead.

It said government should commit to: permanently lift housing benefit for tenants in private rented housing; increase funding for councils to prevent homelessness; invest in a renaissance of council house building to create homes, jobs and growth, and review the financial support given to businesses so that it incentivises them to retain and create jobs.

Councils are working flat out helping those that need help to try and prevent a homelessness spike – through administering the hardship fund, helping people access benefits, working with landlords, supporting food banks and more.

But it is becoming more difficult as the demand increases and council incomes plummet, councils will need more tools and funding to help stave off a huge rise in homelessness in the coming months.

Cllr Giles Archibald, DCN Better Lives spokesperson, said:

“Many families were already struggling to keep a roof over their heads before the coronavirus struck, including people now on the frontline beating this crisis, lone parents, low earners and young people.

“We have grave concerns that the huge impact on jobs and incomes could send many of these half a million families over the edge and into homelessness in the coming months, particularly those struggling to pay their rent in the private rented sector.

“Councils, landlords, charities and other partners are all working hard now to avoid people becoming homeless, however we are in unprecedented times and have grave concerns for the months ahead.

“The Government has already rightly acted to support businesses and residents, but to avert a huge rise in homelessness it must now put the housing crisis at the centre of its exit strategy and recovery effort to support people as the scale of the economic impact becomes clearer.”


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