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UK Politics

Eviction Britain: More than half a million face having their homes repossessed


More than half a million Britons are facing eviction from the homes they own or rent, according to a new analysis of possession claims served on households by the courts during the past year.

The scale of the crisis equates to more than 4,000 households being at risk of losing their home each week, Shelter warned today, while more than 215,000 possession claims have been served on people since April last year.

In some parts of the country the situation is so bad that one in 34 households is in danger of being repossessed, according to the charity’s analysis of county court records from England between April 2013 and March 2014.

Newham in London tops a list of hotspots revealed by Shelter, with one in 34 households having had possession claims made against them in the past year. It is closely followed by Barking and Dagenham, and Southwark, at one in 35 and one in 38 respectively. While London boroughs – where house prices are highest - dominate the list, it is a national problem. Nottingham (the number one hotspot outside of London with one in every 54 homes at risk), Peterborough (one in 60) and Salford (one in 60) also feature in the top 20 worst hit places.  

In terms of regions, London is the worst hit with one in 56 households affected. In contrast, in the south west just one in 172 households have been served the legal notices, which are the first stage in a process which can result in someone being evicted from a home they own or rent.

Despite the political rhetoric around economic recovery, the reality is that growing numbers of families are still set to struggle financially in the future, claim campaigners. And with the majority of families already struggling month to month with their housing costs and interest rates set to rise, many could soon hit danger levels, warned the charity last night.

“These staggering figures show just how many families go through the trauma of learning that their home is at risk, every single week,” commented Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter. “Just one thing such as a job loss or serious illness can tip any of us in to a downward spiral that puts our home at risk.”

He added: “Getting advice early is the best way to halt the spiral of rent or mortgage arrears and can mean the difference between losing a home and keeping it.” 

Responding to the news, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Official Government statistics show repossession claims are falling and in the last quarter were at their lowest for a decade. This has only been achieved because of this Government’s long-term economic plan, which is fixing the broken housing market and tackling the record deficit we inherited.”

He added: “We have kept interest rates low, home ownership is now at its most affordable rate since 2007 and mortgage approvals are at a six-year high. However, anyone facing the prospect of losing their home should seek advice and speak to their lender early so they have as many options as possible.”

The situation is likely to worsen, with more than two million homeowners set to struggle to make repayments on their mortgages if interest rates rise, according to a new report published on Monday by the Resolution Foundation.