Report based on survey of English housing associations and councils suggests government moves to restrict benefits will result in a surge in tenant evictions
Social landlords are expecting a surge in rent arrears, tenant evictions and homelessness as the government pushes ahead with more welfare cuts and changes, according to new research.
The continuing impact of the bedroom tax, together with moves to extend the benefit cap and impose further limits on housing benefit, will put further financial pressure on tenants, predicts a report by consultants Grant Thornton.
It concludes that the ability of councils and housing associations to mitigate growing arrears has been severely eroded, and increasing numbers are issuing possession orders to tenants who have fallen behind with the rent.
Grant Thornton’s survey of English housing associations and local authorities revealed that a majority had seen a rise in average rent arrears over the past two years, with over a fifth reporting a “sharp increase” in eviction notices being served.
Last week, official statistics showed that tenant evictions reached a six-year high in the first three months of 2015. Over the same period, social landlords made 27,000 possession claims – the first stage in the legal process leading to an eviction.
Councils are also feeling the strain of increased evictions in the private rented sector, with 59% reporting an increase in applications for social housing from tenants who had been ejected by private landlords.
The threat of further evictions will rise after a cut in the budget for discretionary housing payments (DHP) from £165m to £125m this year, the report says. DHP grants, which help tenants with rent shortfalls caused by welfare reform, were originally intended as a temporary measure to enable tenants to stay in their home while they got a job or arranged a move to a smaller property.