Dozens more claims to evict people from their homes in St Helens were made this summer than in 2021, figures show, amid a huge increase in repossession activity across England and Wales.
Housing charity Shelter has accused the Government of ignoring an unfolding "crisis" in the rental market, where prices are rising rapidly, after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's autumn statement revealed little help for private tenants.
Ministry of Justice data shows 97 claims to repossess properties in St Helens were lodged by mortgage lenders and landlords between July and September.
Of those, 15 were for homes owned by mortgage-holders, while the rest were to evict tenants.
It means there were 62 more claims in the latest quarter than over the same period in 2021, when 35 were submitted.
Despite this rise, there were still fewer bids to remove people from their homes than in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic – 189 claims were lodged between July and September that year.
The figures also show that in the latest period, tenants were evicted from their homes in St Helens on 12 occasions – putting them among the 5,400 tenant evictions across England and Wales – while there were four bailiff-enforced home repossessions.
Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, warned more renters could fall behind on payments and lose their homes without better support.
Reacting to Mr Hunt's autumn statement, she 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."
Ms Neate said 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."
Meanwhile, Mr Hunt said he would "monitor carefully" the situation around mortgage repossessions, after Labour former shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged the Chancellor to come back with a "package of measures" to get people through the housing crisis.
"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." Mr Hunt said.
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.