Councils in England saw a 20 per cent rise in people needing support for homelessness due to unemployment during the first year of the pandemic, drawing calls for more support this autumn to prevent a mass homelessness crisis just as the furlough scheme and universal credit increase are due to end.
New government figures found English councils gave assistance to 268,560 households to prevent or relieve homelessness during the first year of the pandemic, dealing with 10,000 more cases than the year before. More than 100,000 applicants were registered unemployed when they contacted the council for help as Covid-19 battered the economy and the jobs market between April 2020 and March 2021.
The figures come just weeks before the furlough scheme is due to end with 1.6 million people still relying on the scheme while the £20-per-week universal credit increase is also set to be axed.
Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said: “We must keep people in their homes at all costs. It’s as simple as that. We need the government to end no-fault evictions and pay off back-rent and we must give people the light at the end of the tunnel by helping them find meaningful, decently-paid jobs or access to high-quality training.
“This is the sensible solution. We know that the cost of someone slipping into homelessness doubles the cost to the Exchequer.”
These statistics make painfully clear that you cannot free people from the cycle of homelessness without a proper homeCrisis chief executive Jon SparkesCrisis chief executive Jon Sparkes
The Big Issue has launched a Stop Mass Homelessness campaign with a nine-point plan to prevent rising homelessness in the autumn as emergency support provided during the pandemic dies down.