Councils save 130,000 households from homelessness

Some 130,000 households in England have been saved from homelessness or provided with alternative accommodation by their local council in the past year.

The homelessness prevention and relief statistics, published for the first time, reveal the work that councils and the government are undertaking, such as rent deposits for households.

Yet the figures mask some underlying trends that have emerged during the recession.

Emotional strain

A report by Shelter and Money Advice Trust (MAT) reveals that 1.3 million low-income households are either struggling with or falling behind with their finances and many feel under mental and emotional strain.

At the same time, landlords are also facing problems. According to Taking the Strain: The Private Rented Sector and the Recession, more than 40% of them are either struggling sometimes or in constant financial difficulty.

Some are even questioning their future in the sector, which could leave many tenants vulnerable if the owners need to sell their properties suddenly.

Impact of recession

Shelter and MAT commissioned YouGov to survey 745 renters on household incomes below £20,000 (£25,000 in London) and 440 landlords from the National Landlords Association to gain an insight into the impact of the recession in the private rented sector in the past year.

The survey found that 46% of tenants who had fallen behind with their finances did not receive advice about their debts, with a quarter saying they were too embarrassed to ask.

Although most landlords said they were managing to ride out the recession, a significant minority were struggling or falling behind – with potential consequences for tenants.

Kay Boycott, director of policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: “While we welcome the help that’s available for homeowners in arrears, private tenants who are struggling to keep their homes should not be forgotten.”

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