Hundreds of Preston households homeless or at risk
Charities fear surge in homeless people when pandemic is over
Hundreds of households in Preston were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness last winter.
Nationally, the number of people identified as homeless has risen slightly, as Shelter says there is a clear danger of the problem worsening further when pandemic measures are lifted.
But a national decrease in the threat of homelessness came as the Government and local authorities sought to ensure as many people as possible had roofs over their heads during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between October and December last year, 135 families or individuals in Preston were identified as homeless by the council, up from 126 the year before, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show.
A further 75 households were eligible for council help as they were at risk of homelessness in winter 2020 - down from 142 in 2019.
Pandemic measures including the Everyone In scheme – which saw local authorities work to provide emergency accommodation to as many people in need as possible – a restriction on evictions and lengthened notice periods for landlords contributed to significant changes to England’s statutory homelessness levels, according to the MHCLG.
Their latest figures show that 33,990 households were identified as homeless last winter across England, a rise of 0.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
But 28,270 families or individuals were deemed at risk of homelessness, a drop of 18.5 per cent.
As lockdown measures took hold, the Everyone In campaign contributed to a national rise of eight per cent in households living in temporary accommodation between winter 2019 to the same period last year.
There were 57 households in temporary accommodation in Preston on December 31 2020 – 31 more than the year before and including 31 children – while at the same time, the council assessed at least eight individuals or families as sleeping rough in the area.
Local Government Association chairman James Jamieson said councils were determined to build on the success of Everyone In.
He added: “It is vital we draw on lessons learned during the pandemic and ensure this is not just a one-off emergency response.”
Private sector eviction restrictions led to a drop of almost half in the number of households threatened with homelessness via the serving of a Section 21 notice, which landlords must issue before ending tenancies.
There were more households in Preston facing that threat last winter compared to the previous year – from two in 2019 to three.
Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said: “The economic impact of the pandemic has exposed the true cost of decades of failure to build the social homes we need.
“More than 60,000 households were tipped into homelessness last winter – even with the evictions ban.
“In just over a month the ban on evictions is going to lift, and even more struggling families could be faced with the same fate.”
An MHCLG spokesman said the figures showed their actions had helped to protect renters, rough sleepers and other vulnerable people from the impact of the pandemic.
He added: “Renters continue to be protected, including through six-month notice periods and a ban on the enforcement of evictions, except in the most serious circumstances.
“But there is more still to do, and we will continue to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping with over £750m funding this year alone.”