Hundreds of homes repossessed last year in Liverpool City Region.
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Liverpool was the worst hit area with 136 homes repossessed, while Knowsley had the fewest at 23
Debt charity StepChange said that ever since financial measures related to the COVID pandemic ended more people have lost their homes across England and Wales, and that further government support may be required.
In the Liverpool City Region, a total of 302 homes were repossessed from tenants and mortgage payers in 2021, with 279 of those being repossessions of rented property and the rest being repossessions of mortgaged homes.
This spells a rise from 2020 figures, in large part due to the banning of Bailiff-enforced evictions in 2020-21- a measure introduced by the government to prevent an increase in homelessness during the pandemic.
However, this ban was lifted on 31 May last year.
What’s been said?
Sue Anderson, head of media at StepChange, called the emergency measures to prevent landlord evictions and mortgage repossessions ‘instrumental.’
But she added: “With many people yet to recover from the financial effects of the pandemic – and now having to cope with a cost of living crisis – it’s no surprise that we are seeing a rise in the number of people losing their homes.
“While the £65 million support fund created to help deal with COVID rent arrears will help, more support may still be needed for the hardest hit households.”
Anderson’s claims are illuminated by the figures, as though this year’s numbers show a rise from last year’s, they represent a steep fall from those of 2019, before the ban on evictions was introduced.
In that year, 1,300 homes were repossessed throughout the Liverpool City Region, yet this number could be even higher due to the absence of data from Halton in 2019.
How were the different LCR districts affected?
Liverpool was the worst hit district in the LCR, and last year 136 homes were repossessed, a majority of these being from renters.
The area also suffered the steepest increase from 2020 with figures almost 30% higher than in that year.
Liverpool also saw the ban on evictions at its best in the LCR with repossessions dropping from over 500 in the year preceding the 2020 ban.
The Wirral saw a similar pattern, with home repossessions increasing to 57 in 2021 from 50 in 2020.
This represents a substantially smaller amount of repossessions than 2019’s pre-ban figure of well over 200.
In Halton, figures increased by five digits, rising from the mid-twenties in 2020 to 31 last year: figures from 2019 are unavailable.
Some districts have seen a consistent decrease from 2019 through 2020 such as St Helens and Sefton, however with the ban now over the fall will not be expected to continue.
Ministry of Justice figures show 23 homes in Knowsley were repossessed in 2021 – 22 evictions of renters, and one by a mortgage lender. This was down from 34 in 2020, and fewer than the 131 in 2019.
In St Helens the drop was even larger; 25 five homes were repossessed in 2021 – all of which were evictions of renters. This was down from 36 in 2020, and fewer than the 155 in 2019.
And in Sefton last year there were 30 repossessions- a decrease of only two from the year before, but down from 239 in 2019.
What happens next?
The recent cost of living crisis combined with the lasting effects of the pandemic mean that the amounts of repossessions are likely to start climbing back up towards the levels seen in 2019.
Shelter said huge numbers of eviction notices are currently dropping on doormats across the country, and rising living costs may be the final straw for many renters.
Osama Bhutta, director of campaigns at the housing charity, said: “Some are being forced to choose between feeding their families, heating their homes, or paying their rent.
“While government measures, like the £65 million rent arrears fund, will help some, it won’t be enough to protect every family who is barely hanging onto their home.
“It’s time the Government gave renters the financial lifeline they need by boosting support and reversing the damaging welfare cuts that have left people on the brink of destitution.”
How has the government responded?
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said its actions have helped keep thousands of people in their homes.
Along with the £65 million to support low income households, a DLUHC spokeswoman said £316 million will be available next year to prevent homelessness.
She added: “We also recognise people are facing pressures with the cost of living, which is why we are providing support worth around £12 billion this financial year and next.”