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A home is a human right

Homelessness soars as evictions rise
Ryan Fletcher, Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Families evicted by private landlords are becoming homeless in record numbers because they can’t afford a place to live, shocking new government figures show.


Nearly a third of the 15,170 families who became homeless in England between April and June this year, said their circumstances were due to the end of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) – a 10 percent increase on the same period last year.


In London, AST evictions were cited as the reason for homelessness by 41 percent of households needing shelter during the three month period, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) figures revealed.


Evictions after an AST has ended have become the single biggest cause for homelessness during the past few years. Just 11 percent of homeless acceptances by English local authorities were caused AST evictions in 2010. The rise has been blamed on ballooning rents and housing benefit cuts.


The DCLG report states, “Affordability of housing is an increasingly significant issue, as more households facing the end of a private tenancy are unable to find an alternative without assistance.”


The statistics also revealed a sudden rise in the number of families with children who are staying in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than six weeks.


By law councils are required to move families out of B&B accommodation after 42 days, yet between June and April, 1,140 families were still in B&Bs once the deadline had passed – an increase of 29 percent on the previous year and highest level since 2003.


Local councils say the increase in the usage of B&Bs is due to severe shortages of suitable and affordable temporary housing, caused in part by Tory cuts to housing benefit. The statistics show 73,120 families were in temporary accommodation, an increase of 9 percent on 2015.


‘Shocking indictment’

Head of Unite Community Fiona Farmer said the union had taken its “A Home is a Human Right” campaign, calling for rent controls and the construction of council houses, across the country to pressure the government and local authorities into taking action.


The campaign has seen success in Cambridge, where, after sustained pressure from Unite, the council has committed to building more council homes in order to alleviate huge tenancy waiting lists.


“Combined with the threat of expensive shorthold tenancies, which guarantee just a few months of occupancy, are damaging welfare cuts that only serve to make a difficult situation much worse for thousands of struggling families across the country,” said Farmer.


“The rise in evictions is a shocking indictment of this government’s abject failure to get to grips with the housing crisis. That’s why we welcome the Labour Party’s proposals to lift council house borrowing caps for local authorities.”


On Saturday (October 1) Unite held a day of action across the South East of England, where the housing crisis is particularly stark.


To find out more about the day of action click here.


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