This is combined with rising energy bills, which are estimated to tip a further 488,000 households into fuel poverty, and the accompanying increase in food prices. Food banks are also already struggling against supply issues and an increase in demand.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently told The Big Issue that the government needs to take note of some of the consequences of their policies as he said that cuts to universal credit and lack of affordable housing will worsen the homelessness crisis in the UK.
Lord Bird reminded the prime minister of his government’s promise that “no renter who has lost income due to Coronavirus will be forced out of their home,” and directly asked him to keep that promise at a time when hundreds of thousands are facing that exact situation.
A government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve kept renters in their homes through banning bailiff evictions, extending notice periods and providing unprecedented financial support.
“Universal credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work. We’ve always been clear that the uplift to universal credit was temporary and designed to help people through the toughest stages of the pandemic.
“Our reforms to the rental sector will deliver a fairer system for all.”
Stop Mass Homelessness
Join the campaign to stop mass homelessness
The UK is facing a rising tide of homelessness if the government doesn't act. Join the campaign by signing the petition, writing to your local council and MP or becoming a community champion.
Read the whole letter in full, including the signatory organisations, below:
Dear Prime Minister,
For three decades, The Big Issue has supported people who have found themselves without a place to call home. Now, after a global pandemic has pushed so many into poverty, our priority is to put a stop to people becoming homeless in the first place. That’s why we are campaigning to Stop Mass Homelessness.
This is so timely as a huge number of people who have never before been at risk of losing their home will suddenly be unable to afford the roof over their head through no fault of their own. This is the stark reality we face unless the Government act now to keep people in their homes.
A shocking number of households were in rent arrears in summer 2021 – with estimates ranging from 431,820 in the Private Rented Sector, to 558,000 for Universal Credit claimants. Evictions and repossessions are also reaching the courts at an increasingly alarming pace. One household every 63 minutes was evicted in August and a third of cases explicitly mentioned Covid-19 related poverty.
That was the picture before. A perfect storm awaits now that measures in place to support people through the pandemic have come to an end.
The furlough scheme has been scrapped. That puts the 1.6 million people who were still on furlough last month at risk of losing their jobs – and their homes. Energy bills for millions have risen by up to £139 a year – pushing 488,000 additional households into fuel poverty. At the same time, we see Universal Credit cut by £20 – forcing families to choose between feeding their children or paying the rent.
As people are faced with additional costs and their income or financial support is cut – how can they be expected to support themselves? Through no fault of their own, hundreds of thousands of people risk losing their homes.
The Government was clear in its commitment that “no renter who has lost income due to Coronavirus will be forced out of their home”.
But this is exactly the situation that hundreds of thousands are facing. We need action to support tenants and landlords to stop a mass homelessness crisis like never before.
We saw the good progress that can be made on homelessness through the Everyone In scheme. Now, we need to build on this progress and see more bold and sensible policies like this again from the Government, to prevent families and individuals being forced into destitution and homelessness – which is more costly for the Government and damaging for society.
Can you make good on your Government’s promise?
We need you to commit to keep people in their homes – through ending no fault evictions, paying off the £360 million rent arrears and supporting people into sustainable jobs and training.
Lord John Bird
Founder of The Big Issue
Action on Empty Homes
Caring in Bristol
City & Guilds
Community Trade Union
Fuel Poverty Action
Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit
Housing Association Charitable Trust
Joint council for the welfare of immigrants
Labour Campaign for Human Rights
London Borough of Southwark
Manage your language
National Education Union
New Economics Foundation
New Horizon Youth Centre
Psychologists for Social Change
Quaker Social Action
Save the Children
Social Enterprise Mark CIC
Social Enterprise UK
Social Housing Action Campaign
The 99% organisation
The Body Shop
The Faculty of Public Health
Trust for London
UK Women’s Budget Group
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers