By Isabel Ringrose
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Tory policies will cause a ‘tidal wave’ of evictions, warns council official

The spike in homelessness flows from the Tories trying to make working class people pay for the coronavirus crisis
Issue 2793
A sleeping bag on the sand stone coloured steps of a public building

Homelessness will soar as evictions increase (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Homelessness in England will rise by a third by 2024, new research shows. Benefit freezes, rising food and bill prices and the end of the eviction ban will cause a surge in people rough sleeping, sofa surfing and stuck in hostels.

Over 66,000 additional people will be homeless in the next two years with sofa surfing set to rise to almost 160,000 people, according to housing charity Crisis. It also predicts 8,000 more rough sleepers and 9,000 people in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

A survey of 155 councils in England found that nine in ten expect to see an increase in evictions from private rented homes in the next year. Eight in ten also fear rises in child homelessness.

Evictions are already on the up, with more than 14,000 possession claims hitting the courts between October and December last year. This was 42 percent above the previous quarter.“We are expecting a tidal wave, to put it mildly,” an official at one council in southern England told researchers. 

A total of 36,510 households were identified as homeless from July to September 2021. These are the first three months, with data available, after the eviction ban brought in at the beginning of the pandemic was lifted. The number of households with children made up over a quarter of that total—a rise of 15.1 percent from the previous year.

Councils in London could face the biggest rises as the cost of living continues to soar. Yet the Tories are looking to reel back their homelessness assistance. The “Everybody In” programme during the pandemic saw rough sleepers housed in hotels. It helped “core homelessness” in England drop by 5 percent on 2019 figures, to 203,400 people.

But by 2024, this will hit 270,000 and a terrifying 300,000 by 2036 unless action is taken. And people being made homeless after fleeing domestic abuse has risen by a third in England since the start of the pandemic. They accounted for one in five households made homeless.

Between July and September 2021, some 6,310 households were deemed homeless as a result of domestic abuse. This was an increase of 13.7 percent from the same quarter in 2020 and up 34.3 percent from the 4,700 in the third quarter of 2019.

With energy prices set to rise by over 40 percent, single, low-income households will be hit the hardest. Working class people could be forced to spend 54 percent of their income on bills, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Last December the Tories promised £316 million for a homelessness prevention fund for councils. But charities such as Crisis are calling for larger increases to the Local Housing Allowance—the amount the state pays to cover rent for people on benefits.

It’s vital more council housing is built and empty homes are requisitioned. It’s time to fight back against the Tories’ assault on ordinary people.

  • Homes For All national summit Saturday 12 March, 11am. More details and how to sign up here

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