Homelessness 'crunch point' as end to evictions ban looms

EMBARGOED TO 2230 SUNDAY DECEMBER 13 File photo dated 16/01/20 of people walking past a homeless man

Local authorities fear the end of a temporary evictions ban, rising unemployment and uncertainty over town hall finances will lead to increased homelessness. - Credit: PA

A warning has been issued about a predicted surge in people facing homelessness this summer.

Amanda Dubarry, chief executive at homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House in Canning Town, said the situation is approaching a "crunch point".

An end to a temporary ban on evictions, council funding uncertainty, unemployment and rent arrears have led London Councils to describe the "trends" as "disastrous".

Housing Secretary visits Canning Town homelessness charity

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick - pictured with Caritas Anchor House CEO Amanda Dubarry and Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz during a January 2020 visit to the charity - attended the homelessness summit organised by Citizens UK. - Credit: Caritas Anchor House

Ms Dubarry said: "This is a horrible mixture and is going to lead to a huge surge in homelessness across London."

Darren Rodwell, executive member for housing and planning at London Councils, said: "There’s a real risk of London’s homelessness crisis getting even worse.

"We need the government to rethink its welfare policies and boost long-term funding for services if we’re to reverse these disastrous trends."

A government spokesperson said an "unprecedented" £352billion support package is helping those most in need during the pandemic.

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She added: "It has prevented a widespread build-up of rent arrears by ensuring private renters can continue paying their rent. Renters will continue to be supported as emergency measures are lifted - with longer notice periods in place until the end of September.

"We’re also providing over £750million this year alone to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, including £310m for councils to manage homelessness pressures and support those at risk of homelessness."

Newham borough already has 27,000 people on its housing waiting list. It reports cutting rough sleeping by 91pc in the last year.

Amar, who stays at Caritas Anchor House, spent more than a year sleeping rough.

"When you spend those cold nights sleeping on the street with nowhere to go, you just feel like you are worth nothing. It’s soul destroying," he said.

The council's cabinet chiefs backed plans to invest £3m in a new homeless shelter facility in April.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: "We have more to do and know there will be challenges ahead."

London Councils urged the government to confirm local authorities' future funding, end the five-week wait before universal credit payments begin and restore a welfare help scheme.

More money for social housing is also among its demands.