Measures that have been in place to protect the poorest in society falling through the gaps during the Coronavirus pandemic come to an end this week. The removal of these simple provisions will have a devastating impact on some people’s lives. We know there will be an increase in homelessness and rough sleeping as a result of some cruel political decisions.
£20 Reduction in Universal Credit
Universal Credit payments are being reduced by £20 per week. People who rely on these slim payments to top up their rent and buy groceries to feed their families will be facing some stark choices: go hungry, go cold, face eviction.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote an article on the Universal Credit cut for the Financial Times this week. He cites a study from Loughborough University comparing what a typical family receives versus what they need.
End of Furlough
The furlough scheme, originally expected to last three weeks, and extended time and again, finally comes to an end this week. Conservative economists argue that the government can’t continue to pay wages of people who have been asked not to work. Proponents of alternative economic systems say the government can and should do precisely that. We’ll let these arguments play out in more learned channels. Suffice to say, some will find themselves with no job to return to and, having to adapt to a life with severely reduced income.
Rising Energy Bills
This one may be out of the government’s direct control (although some argue that they have compounded the issue by leaving the single energy market when they left the EU, thus reducing their bargaining power) but the surge in international prices for gas has trickled its way down to the consumer. And many who were formerly on a cheaper fixed tariff find their energy company has gone bust and they are now paying the much higher Energy Price Cap rate at a new company.
End of Eviction Ban
As if that weren’t enough, in June, the government restored the right of landlords to evict tenants who fall into rent arrears. The required four month notice period expires right at the time when people are likely to be falling into rent arrears due to the pressures outlined above!
(Also the four month notice period requirement itself expires today as well - so eviction notice periods return to their pre-pandemic length of 4-6 weeks)
So forgive us if we are a little pessimistic about the homelessness statistics for this winter. And we know that behind the numbers are thousands of real and relatable human stories.
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