The Big Issue has today called for urgent government action to prevent a dramatic increase in homelessness this winter, once the extra support rolled out during the coronavirus lockdowns is discontinued.
The social enterprise and magazine has warned of the potential for a crisis of homelessness this winter due to four coinciding factors. These are: the end of the furlough scheme, the end of the uplift in Universal Credit, a predicted increase in the prices of gas and electricity, and an increase in evictions and repossessions.
New data, collected by The Scottish Government, UK Finance, and The Ministry of Justice, shows that in the first quarter of 2021, 632 evictions or repossessions took place, meaning that another household was made homeless every 3.4 hours.
In response to these predictions, The Big Issue has published a nine-point plan to prevent the winter homelessness crisis and support households long-term. The magazine has also launched a campaign, encouraging the public to support them by signing the petition, writing to their local politicians, or becoming a campaign champion.
The plan makes nine demands to the government, including that they pay off £360m in rent arrears, make the Universal Credit £20 uplift permanent, and suspend no-fault evictions until a Renters’ Reform Act is made. The plan also calls for longer-term action by the government, such as the expansion of social housing, investment in creation of greener jobs, and the passing of a Future Generations Act to end short-term thinking of government policy.
Lord John Bird, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the Big Issue, commented:
Millions of people in this country are behind in household bills, half a million are in rent arrears and nearly 200,000 homeowners are in financial difficulty. More people are at risk of homelessness now than at any time in living memory. The government was quick to support us when they put over 37,000 homeless people into accommodation in the first lockdown. We need a similar urgent approach to prevent an avalanche of homelessness this autumn.
To find out more about supporting the Big Issue’s campaign, visit http://www.bigissue.com/stop-mass-homelessness.