Every day over 170 evictions take place across the UK. A Lewisham credit union wants more areas to adopt their simple solutionby Jason Murugesu / July 10, 2019 / Leave a comment
If you want to know where people are being evicted in the UK, don’t look to the poorest towns in the UK—look to the towns where the poorest families live in private housing. There are over 170 evictions a day in England Wales. The majority of which involve young children.
Evictions are a costly business. Housing Associations can lose up to £30,000 on every social housing eviction. And yet the cost of avoiding eviction for an individual family is relatively low.
Last month, the University of Sheffield published a study which looked at a scheme pioneered by the Lewisham Plus Credit Union (LPCU). For nine years, Lewisham used a £85,000 grant from the council to provide interest-free loans to those at risk of eviction.
Their study found that the scheme saved Lewisham Council over £1 million in temporary accommodation costs and helped 300 families avoid eviction. In other words, it was a total success. But can the key to reducing evictions in Britain really be so simple?
Glenn was evicted from his privately rented flat when he was 45. Having previously done stints in prison for petty crimes, he was now seeking stability. Yet Glenn had not paid his rent for months. He had been switched over to Universal Credit and was facing financial sanctions for missed appointments.
Unlike the previous benefits system, where such sanctions would not affect one’s ability to pay rent—as housing benefit was paid separately—these sanctions had a massive impact.
“They’ll give you sanctions for anything,” Glenn told me, “especially missed appointments, even if they are viable reasons.”
“I once spent an hour on the phone trying to re-arrange an appointment and then got cut off, without having spoken to someone.”
Universal Credit has been a major reason for the increasing number of evictions in Britain. Paul Shamplina, CEO of Landlord Action, tells me that the new benefits system has “caused hardship and anxiety to both tenants and landlords by exacerbating rental loss, mainly as a result of delays and errors in the initial payment.”
The situation doesn’t just hurt those involved. £845 million is spent by the government on temporary accommodation each year, supporting almost 84,000 residents.
And yet, Shamplina thinks around “40-50 per cent of evictions we deal with could have been avoided.”[caption id=”attachment_84003″…