UK charities urge Sunak and Truss to act on homelessness ‘cliff’

UK charities urge Sunak and Truss to act on homelessness ‘cliff’

Dozens of British charities have warned Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak of a “cliff” in homelessness as soaring electricity bills combine with record rents to intensify a cost-of-living crisis.

In a letter on Wednesday, 29 homeless organisations, including Shelter and Crisis, called on the foreign secretary and former chancellor to respect Tory manifesto for banning so-called no-fault evictions and ending rough sleeping by 2024.

One of the most common causes of homelessness, no-fault evictions allow landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason.

The letter, coordinated by Homeless Link, pointed to “inflation rising at the fastest rate in 40 years” as rents “reached record levels and are still rising” due to a “chronic lack of truly affordable housing”.

“We are now at a precipice,” charitable organizations he warned, adding: “Without government intervention, we fear many more people could be forced into homelessness.”

Since the government’s moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic ended in August of last year, the number of homeless people has risen sharply. According to latest official datain the three months to March this year, homelessness caused by private landlords selling or renting out their property was 17 percent higher than in the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of social tenants becoming homeless has doubled compared to the same period in 2021, with the government pointing to a “large increase in rent arrears”.

Aid groups have called on the next prime minister to press ahead with a planned “refresh” of the government’s rough sleeping strategy and bring forward full legislation from White paper on lettings released this monthwho promised to abolish section 21 or no-fault evictions.

In North Tyneside, north-east England, consumer charity Citizens Advice said many low-income tenants were racking up huge arrears and had to choose between paying their rent or rising energy bills. It is added that in the past six weeks there has been an increase in the number of people who need help with their mortgage debt.

Jacqui Ramsay, the service’s operations manager, said homelessness was a “time bomb waiting” to explode. “Six to 12 months from now, homelessness will be ‘yuck’,” she said as she called on the government to bring back the £20-a-week Universal Credit that was temporarily introduced during the pandemic.

The shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said the charity was “incredibly concerned” that more people would become homeless.

“To stop the rise in homelessness this year, whoever becomes the next prime minister needs to tackle it, and fast, by unfreezing housing benefit so people can afford to pay their rent,” she added.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow promotion secretary, said ministers were “too distracted by their own scandals and incompetence to avoid this crisis and come up with a plan for people struggling to pay their rent and mortgage”.

One Truss campaign insider said the Tory leadership leader remained “committed” to the manifesto promise of rough sleeping, adding that Truss would “look at the best way to achieve that as soon as she gets into Downing Street”.

A spokesman for Sunak’s campaign said he had made “significant” investments in rough sleeping and affordable housing as chancellor. “Rishi has been consistent in the need to do more to support the most vulnerable people in our society with the cost of living this winter,” they added.

The Department for Upliftment, Housing and Communities said rough sleeping was at its lowest level for eight years, pointing to a £65m fund for vulnerable tenants who fall behind. It added that new legislation, the Tenancy Reform Act, will end Section 21 evictions by making tenancies simpler and safer.

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