Hundreds of Bedford households homeless or at serious risk
The figure is up from the year before
Hundreds of households in Bedford were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness last winter, figures show.
Nationally, the number of people identified as homeless has risen slightly, as Shelter says there is a clear danger of the problem worsening further when pandemic measures are lifted.
But a national decrease in the threat of homelessness came as the Government and local authorities sought to ensure as many people as possible had roofs over their heads during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between October and December last year, 182 families or individuals in Bedford were identified as homeless by the council, up from 150 the year before, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show.
A further 58 households were eligible for council help as they were at risk of homelessness in winter 2020 - down from 87 in 2019.
Pandemic measures including the Everyone In scheme – where local authorities worked to provide emergency accommodation to as many people in need as possible – a restriction on evictions and lengthened notice periods for landlords contributed to significant changes to England’s statutory homelessness levels, according to the MHCLG.
Their latest figures show that 33,990 households were identified as homeless last winter across England, a rise of 0.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
But 28,270 families or individuals were deemed at risk of homelessness, a drop of 18.5 per cent.
As lockdown measures took hold, the Everyone In campaign contributed to a national rise of 8 per cent in households living in temporary accommodation between winter 2019 to the same period last year.
There were 266 households in temporary accommodation in Bedford on December 31, 2020 – 19 fewer than the year before and including 142 children – while at the same time, the council assessed at least 28 individuals or families as sleeping rough in the area.
Local Government Association chairman James Jamieson said councils were determined to build on the success of Everyone In.
He added: “It is vital we draw on lessons learned during the pandemic and ensure this is not just a one-off emergency response.”
Private sector eviction restrictions led to a drop of almost half in the number of households threatened with homelessness via the serving of a Section 21 notice, which landlords must issue before ending tenancies.
There were fewer households in Bedford facing that threat last winter compared to the previous year – from 10 in 2019 to seven.
Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said: “The economic impact of the pandemic has exposed the true cost of decades of failure to build the social homes we need.
“More than 60,000 households were tipped into homelessness last winter – even with the evictions ban.
“In just over a month the ban on evictions is going to lift, and even more struggling families could be faced with the same fate.”
An MHCLG spokesman said the figures showed their actions had helped to protect renters, rough sleepers and other vulnerable people from the impact of the pandemic.
He added: “Renters continue to be protected, including through six-month notice periods and a ban on the enforcement of evictions, except in the most serious circumstances.
“But there is more still to do, and we will continue to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping with over £750 million funding this year alone.”