Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has expressed increasing concern that the country is facing a surge in the number of people facing homelessness, as the ban on bailiff enforced evictions comes to an end.

The end of the ban is the first step in the Government starting to taper off support measures introduced to help renters during the pandemic.

Bailiff evictions will still not take place if anyone living at the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

Also from tomorrow (1 June) eviction notice periods, which were previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic, will be reduced to four months.

And, if lockdown restrictions ease as planned, notice periods in England will return to how they were
before the pandemic from 1 October.

St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “Last year the Government acknowledged that people falling into rent arrears during the pandemic was a problem beyond a person’s control, and acted quickly to introduce measures to protect people from being evicted.

“We, alongside many others in the homelessness sector, warned that unless longer term solutions were put in place there would be a looming tide of homelessness.

“We agreed with proposals such as loans or grants for those in arrears, making the uplift in universal credit permanent, and the abolition of so-called ‘section 21’ no fault evictions, and urged that they be introduced.

“However, these support measures have not materialised, so the threat of a new wave of homelessness is becoming an increasing reality, especially with the furlough scheme also due to finish at the end of September.

“When that happens we could end up seeing a perfect storm of arrears, unemployment and homelessness for many people who already are on the edge and struggling to cope.”

Last week the Government responded to the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee report Protecting the Homeless and the Private Rented Sector which made a number of recommendations to help people as the country begins to recover from Covid-19.

In its response the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government indicated that it did not intend to act on any of the recommendations which were made following a series of evidence sessions, including the contributions of St Mungo’s clients Tracey and ‘T’ about their experiences during the pandemic.

Recent research shows that 750,000 UK families – including 300,000 with dependent children – have built up housing arrears during Covid-19 putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness.

And a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that there has been a large rise in the number of people experiencing in-work poverty.

Mr Douglas continued: “It is disappointing that the Government has decided not to take any of the select committee’s recommendations forward, and we urge minister to set out their plans to protect renters and prevent homelessness.

“All these factors contribute to the financial ‘knife-edge’ that many thousands of people are experiencing, facing the constant struggle to make ends meet, and the very real prospect of losing their home.

“St Mungo’s will continue to work with our colleagues in the sector, our partners in local and central government, and through our work with the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping – to develop ways to ensure we can do all we can to stop people coming to the streets in the first place, providing emergency help people if they do, and then the long term support to help them recover and leave homelessness behind them,” he said.