Cost of Living crisis: How many people faced evictions from homes in Northamptonshire this summer
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Nearly 300 claims to evict people from homes in Northamptonshire were made in just three months this summer as the cost of living crisis sparked a huge increase in repossession activity across England and Wales.
Housing charity Shelter accused the Government of ignoring an unfolding “crisis” in the rental market, where prices are rising rapidly, after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's mini-budget no additional support to millions of people who rent homes – despite record rent increases as the country falls into a new recession.
Reacting to Mr Hunt's autumn statement, Polly Neate Shelter chief executive said: “There is a housing hole in this budget – housing benefit remains frozen at 2020 levels when private rents have been rising at record rates. Increasing Universal Credit will really help people struggling to pay their food and fuel bills, but crucially it doesn’t cover rents which are most people’s biggest outgoing.
"Unless housing benefit is increased, the shortfall with real rents will only grow – swallowing up other benefit increases. The boost to benefits will be built on quicksand.”
Ministry of Justice data shows 125 claims to repossess properties in West Northamptonshire were lodged by mortgage lenders and landlords between July and September. Of those, 16 were for homes owned by mortgage-holders, while the rest were to evict tenants.
In North Northamptonshire, there were 164 claims lodged by mortgage lenders and landlords. Of those, 31 were for homes owned by mortgage-holders, while the rest were to evict tenants.
Mr Hunt had faced calls from housing groups for rent freezes and eviction bans to help tenants.
Ms Neate warned more renters could fall behind on payments and lose their homes without better support. She added that a planned increase to the benefit cap is a “glimmer of hope” for vulnerable families, but added: "The Government’s refusal to unfreeze housing benefit ignores the rental crisis that is unfolding, and means that homelessness will continue to rise this winter.”
The criticism was echoed by homelessness charity Crisis, with chief executive Matt Downie adding: “Abandoning renters during a recession and cost-of-living crisis is unforgiveable.”
Mr Hunt said his decision to limit social housing rent increases next year to seven percent would “support people most exposed to high inflation”. Without intervention, rents could have risen by up to 11.8 percent under existing inflation-linked arrangements.
The Chancellor also said he would “monitor carefully” the situation around mortgage repossessions after Labour’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged the Chancellor to come back with a “package of measures” to get people through the housing crisis.
Mr Hunt added: “I’ve already had a number of discussions internally in the Treasury and as necessary, I’ll come back to this House with further measures.”
It was also announced that Universal Credit claimants struggling with rising interest costs on their mortgages would be able to access a Government loan after three months, rather than nine, in a bid to protect the lowest earners from losing their homes.