The cost of benefits cuts is starting to filter through as record numbers of people lost their homes by the end of September.
By Hilary Osborne, The Guardian
The number of tenant households in England and Wales evicted from their homes hit record levels in the third quarter of the year, with cuts to social security among the factors leading to more than 100 evictions a day. Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 11,100 rented properties were repossessed by bailiffs between July and September, the highest quarterly figure since the records began in 2000. In contrast, just 2,805 mortgage borrowers lost their homes.
By the end of September, more than 30,000 tenant households had lost their homes, and the figure is on track to be higher than the 37,792 recorded in 2013. The eviction figures do not show who owns the rental properties in question, but recently a large proportion of possession claims have been made by social landlords such as local councils and housing associations, who have warned it is caused by the introduction of the bedroom tax.
The figures for possession claims in the third quarter show that of the 40,859 issued between July and September, 25,955 were by social landlords such as local councils and housing associations, while 5,694 were by private landlords, and the rest could not be broken down. The MoJ said it expected a fifth of the claims to lead to eviction.
Campbell Robb, the chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said: “It’s heartbreaking to hear that so many people have lost the battle to keep a roof over their heads.
“Already, 90,000 children will be homeless this Christmas, and with housing costs sky high, many more families are living on a knife-edge knowing that just one thing, like a job loss or illness, could leave them facing the same fate.”
Meanwhile figures from the government showed that although the number of new homes created in England rose by 10% in 2013/14, it remained almost 100,000 down on the figure reached before the financial crisis, and below the number experts say are needed to keep up with demand.
Official government figures showed that 136,610 homes were added to England’s housing stock during the year, including 130,340 newbuild properties. Almost 4,500 new homes came from conversions, while 12,520 were created through change of use and there were 1,330 other gains. Some of these new homes were offset by the loss of 12,060 residences through demolition.
The increase in the number of new homes was the first in six years, and followed an 8% fall in 2012/13. However, sharp falls after the financial crisis mean that the number is still far below its recent peak of 223,530 reached in 2007/08.,
Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “It’s vital that we keep momentum up, but we also need to accelerate it – these figures show that we have a very long way to go to tackle the national housing crisis.
“According to these statistics, 130,340 new homes were completed in 2013-14. That’s just over half the number we need to help the millions of people who are being priced out of a decent home, whether that’s to rent or buy.”
Andrew Bridges, the managing director of London estate agents Stirling Ackroyd, said, “Nothing else can solve a fundamental shortage of homes in the long run, apart from building more. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see such a pick-up for the new homes industry. Yet even at a whopping 10% growth, it would be 2020 before we build as many homes each year as in 2008.”
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