Revealed: How Covid Has Made The UK’s Bitter Housing Disaster Even Worse


Covid has made Britain’s determined housing disaster worse, with the pandemic fuelling a pointy rise within the variety of homeless individuals dwelling in non permanent lodging, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Our investigation has recognized the surprising fee at which homelessness elevated within the early months of the virus outbreak – and appears set to spiral additional because the chaos and financial hardship inflicted coronavirus continues to have an effect on households throughout the nation. 

We will completely reveal:

  • The variety of homeless households dwelling in non permanent lodging in England (98,300) is now at its highest stage since 2005 – and consists of 62,700 households with kids.
  • The entire determine soared 6,110 households – or 7% – in simply three months between March and June this yr, in accordance with authorities figures.
  • The federal government says that is largely as a result of nationwide drive to maneuver tough sleepers off the streets throughout the first wave of the pandemic, however homeless charities worry the upward pattern will proceed as extra households are liable to shedding their houses now the federal government’s Covid-19 amnesty on evictions has been lifted.
  • The variety of non-public renters in arrears reached 442,000 adults in July – double the identical interval final yr, in accordance with the charity Shelter.
  • In the meantime, the federal government has nonetheless did not fund 60,000 “shovel-ready” schemes to construct homes within the capital, regardless of asking councils for particulars of them on the top of the pandemic.

Polly Neate, chief govt of Shelter, stated: “Individuals needs to be as shocked the housing scenario within the UK as they’re the healthcare system in America. There is no such thing as a security internet for individuals and that’s why persons are pressured to stay in these susceptible circumstances – and that may be a selection we’re making.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter



Polly Neate, chief govt of Shelter

The revelations come after HuffPost UK’s investigation on Monday shone a highlight on how the disaster is affecting homeless households, together with some who’re consigned to stay in rooms the dimensions of 1 or two parking areas for months on finish. 

A heavy burden can also be being positioned on councils.

Authorities knowledge printed in October present native authorities in England spent nearly £1.2bn on non permanent housing for homeless individuals in 2019/20, with 87% of the money spent with non-public landlords, lettings brokers or corporations – or £1bn. 

The entire spend is a bounce of 9% in comparison with the earlier yr, and an increase of 55% over the past 5 years.

Whereas London boroughs are far the worst affected the disaster, Birmingham, Manchester, Luton, Milton Keynes, Bristol and Coventry are all among the many high 25 areas in England with the best numbers of homeless households, in accordance with the federal government knowledge we analysed.

Ranges of homelessness additionally soared in different components of the UK.

The variety of homeless households in non permanent lodging in Scotland (14,229 in September) has risen 22% since March. Wales noticed an enormous enhance of 53%, from 2,324 in March to three,566 in August this yr. The newest figures for Northern Eire from 2017/18 present 3,354 households had been affected.

The damning findings have led to pressing calls for the federal government to construct the reasonably priced houses households on low incomes desperately want.

Council leaders instructed HuffPost UK spending £1bn with non-public landlords was “utterly illogical” and had finished nothing to alleviate the rising disaster.

“It’s very unhappy that we now successfully see a market in non permanent lodging,” stated Rebecca Rennison, cupboard member for housing at Hackney Council. “That shouldn’t exist. We shouldn’t have that variety of households homeless.”

‘Distinctive returns’ on housing the homeless  

Finefair lettings agency works with councils in London to accommodate homeless households



Finefair lettings company works with councils in London to accommodate homeless households

HuffPost UK has discovered proof that the housing disaster is driving demand for property house owners to transform rental flats and homes into the kind of one-room bedsit lodging utilized many councils to accommodate homeless individuals – and typically, as we revealed this week, even entire households. 

One main operator within the sector, Finefair Ltd – a lettings company working with councils in London to accommodate homeless households – advertises how profitable changing properties might be.

The corporate’s web site guarantees dwelling house owners “distinctive returns” turning their properties into HMOs (homes of a number of occupation) and hostels. 

The agency’s annual report in 2019 additionally highlights how the rise of homelessness yr on yr is driving demand for the sort of housing. The corporate made £1.8m in revenue in 2018-2019 on income of £22m.  

We approached Kamran Naseem, founder and managing director of Finefair, for remark. In response, a spokesperson stated: “We offer a lot wanted lodging which meets the required requirements, and function inside tips in respect of hire costs set out the native authority.”

The households dwelling in a single room  

Jankhana and her family (left) lived in one room, sharing a kitchen and bathroom, in a building in Plaistow. Pictured (right)



Jankhana and her household (left) lived in a single room, sharing a kitchen and toilet, in a constructing in Plaistow. Pictured (proper) is the kitchenette within the room.

HuffPost UK on Monday revealed the difficulties confronted homeless households dwelling in one-room lodging with shared kitchens and bogs. We reported on situations for 2 households within the capital who had been crammed into rooms the dimensions of 1 or two parking areas. Each had seen cockroaches and one had issues with mice.

Finefair Ltd was the agent renting out one in all these properties – a loft conversion in Ilford, east London, the place a mom and her two-year-old daughter had been positioned Hackney Council.

Finefair and the house owners of the property, former Metropolis lawyer Uzma Naseem and tax adviser Abid Karim, instructed HuffPost UK all of the rooms met house requirements set the federal government and stated any complaints of pest infestation had been responded to inside 24 hours.

A mother and her two-year-old daughter lived in this loft room (left) at a house in Ilford. Pictured (right) are two cockroac



A mom and her two-year-old daughter lived on this loft room (left) at a home in Ilford. Pictured (proper) are two cockroaches that had been discovered within the property.

The opposite property we reported on, a block of homeless housing in Plaistow in east London, was utilized Newham Council to accommodate a household of 4 who lived in a single room, sharing a kitchen and toilet with two different residents.

In line with Land Registry information the block is owned Eve Investments Ltd, an offshore firm registered in Jersey.

It was not attainable for HuffPost UK to ascertain the identification of the corporate’s proprietor as a result of this data isn’t made public in Jersey.

The Jersey-based brokers for Eve Investments Ltd didn’t remark when contacted HuffPost UK.

The property is managed and operated, a leasehold settlement, Elan Administration Options Ltd – a UK firm owned the property developer and human rights activist Edwin Shuker. 

Elan Administration Options Ltd instructed HuffPost UK: “Our constructing offers native authorities with emergency and non permanent lodging to individuals who discover themselves in a variety of extremely tough circumstances. Our services are set as much as present protected shelter for a number of days or even weeks, reasonably than as a long-term housing resolution.” 

The corporate added: “Working on this sector is, sadly, removed from simple. The circumstances that result in our residents’ arrival at our door are not often completely happy and often heartbreaking. Our devoted staff of native workers present and keep a protected and safe setting for our residents, together with workers being on website 24/7 and a big backyard to be used the residents.”

Occasional incidents of pest management or malfunctions in heating are handled as speedily as attainable an in-house upkeep staff or fast response contractors, the corporate stated, including that it takes its obligations “extremely critically”.

“It is a extremely regulated trade and we all the time attempt not solely to adjust to all of the laws however to take care of every resident consumer with respect and dignity,” Elan stated.

Elan stated that in accordance with its final set of accounts its revenue was £30,061.

Each Finefair and Elan Administration Options stated they performed no position in deciding on or allocating who’s positioned into the buildings, which is the only real remit of the native authority. 

Within the case of the household housed within the Elan property, we perceive that when the native authority made the reserving it was to put a mom and her two kids within the room. The household later made it clear to the council the kids’s father would even be dwelling there. Elan says the reserving was made for 3 occupants and it was unclear how the council had ended up allocating 4 individuals there.

Priced out: not sufficient reasonably priced rental houses

A high street in Newham. The east London borough has the highest number of households living in temporary accommodation in th



A excessive avenue in Newham. The east London borough has the best variety of households dwelling in non permanent lodging within the nation.

Native authorities are required regulation to supply non permanent lodging to homeless households.

Whereas the sort of lodging is designed to be short-term, the unaffordability of extra secure housing for 1000’s of the nation’s poorest households means they’ll find yourself dwelling there for months and even years.

There is no such thing as a authorized restrict to how lengthy councils can place households in non permanent lodging earlier than providing them extra appropriate houses.

The councils HuffPost UK spoke to stated they confronted an “inconceivable activity” in attempting to accommodate rising numbers of homeless individuals when there’s not sufficient reasonably priced rental lodging.

Newham and Hackney, the councils who positioned the 2 households HuffPost UK reported on, are the areas of England with the best and second highest numbers of homeless households dwelling in non permanent lodging.

Rennison stated hovering home costs and rising rents had left Hackney Council successfully working as a landlord to 1000’s of homeless households priced out of the rental sector.

“We’ve received over 3,000 households in non permanent lodging and it’s heartbreaking,” she stated. “It’s not non permanent any extra – households and households will typically keep till they get a everlasting dwelling. 

“We maintain pursuing each avenue, attempting to determine each alternative – every part from our personal social house-building programme to campaigns we do to determine properties individuals would possibly be capable of afford within the non-public sector and transfer out to. However the entire system is damaged.”

The Labour councillor stated putting households into non permanent lodging for lengthy durations of time may have very damaging results, notably on kids.

“It’s a selection no council desires to make,” she stated. “And all we are able to do is proceed to work and check out and enhance the standard of what now we have. However it’s heartbreaking. Kids are rising up in cramped lodging.”

Rennison known as on the federal government to spend money on social housing and acknowledge that incomes haven’t stored monitor with hovering rental costs. “Take away the advantages cap and really give individuals on low incomes an opportunity of discovering a property within the non-public rented sector,” she stated.

60,000 ‘shovel-ready’ housing schemes

Darren Rodwell



Darren Rodwell

Darren Rodwell, deputy chair of housing for London Councils – a physique that represents all councils within the capital – echoed requires funding in new reasonably priced houses.

He instructed HuffPost UK the federal government had requested native authorities on the top of the pandemic if that they had any “shovel-ready schemes” to ship housing and infrastructure tasks. London councils had recognized 60,000 housing schemes, asking for money to get them off the bottom.

But London was not awarded a penny to construct any new houses, as an alternative receiving what Rodwell described because the “meagre” quantity of £22m for different constructing tasks.

He known as on the federal government to earn cash obtainable to fund the housing schemes, saying: “It will assist the financial system and it will assist the housing disaster.”

“The prime minister’s line is that we should always ‘construct, construct, construct’. Nicely to ‘construct, construct, construct’ you want the funding,” he stated.

The federal government stated the tasks supported nationwide the scheme – the £900m Getting Constructing Fund – are projected to ship 64,000 houses, albeit none of them within the capital.

Rodwell, who can also be a Labour councillor and chief of Barking and Dagenham Council, admitted the strain on native authorities and an absence of properties to put individuals into did typically lead to households dwelling in lodging that didn’t match their wants.

“The issue is we don’t have properties to provide to individuals,” he stated. “They’re not there. We will’t transfer individuals to one thing that’s not there.

“Individuals have gotten to grasp how massive an issue it’s.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson visits a construction site in Warrington in August. The government has been slammed for failing



Prime minister Boris Johnson visits a building website in Warrington in August. The federal government has been slammed for failing to fund 60,000 housing schemes within the capital

Councils are additionally braced for an extra escalation in homelessness following the lifting, on September 20, of the authorities’s non permanent ban on evictions as a result of pandemic.

As but the true affect of this modification is unknown as landlords have to provide tenants six months’ discover in the event that they want to evict them below the Covid-19 non permanent guidelines. So the fallout is not going to turn out to be obvious till March subsequent yr.

“We don’t know what number of households will likely be kicked out of properties as a result of they could have misplaced their job no fault of their very own,” stated Rodwell.

However Barking and Dagenham is anticipating as much as 40% of working-age individuals within the borough doubtlessly being unemployed as soon as the furlough scheme finishes, he stated.

Newham Council instructed HuffPost UK it has labored “tirelessly” throughout the pandemic to make sure everybody was in protected housing, together with shifting 400 households – corresponding to Jankhana’s, who featured in our first story – into self-contained houses.

Newham says it not locations households into rooms with shared kitchens and bogs except there is no such thing as a different choice.

The council stated the Covid-19 pandemic had “disproportionately impacted” the borough, with greater than 27,000 extra individuals needing to assert advantages and nearly 17,000 on furlough. 

“The federal government should do extra to assist native authorities meet the prices of supporting residents the disaster,” a spokesperson stated.

Gentrification: the issue is spreading to different cities 

A residential street in Birmingham. The city has the third highest number of homeless households living in temporary accommod



A residential avenue in Birmingham. Town has the third highest variety of homeless households dwelling in non permanent lodging within the nation.

The disaster isn’t solely affecting London. Different cities are additionally reporting substantial numbers of homeless households now dwelling in non permanent lodging, in accordance with authorities knowledge.

Birmingham has the third highest quantity – 3,291 households as of June 2020 – and Manchester the ninth, with 2,313. The remainder of the highest 10 are London boroughs, however Luton, Milton Keynes, Bristol, and Coventry all have a whole lot of households affected.

Jane Williams is the founder and CEO of The Magpie Mission, a charity in Newham supporting mums and under-fives dwelling in non permanent lodging.

“I feel in bigger cities it’s undoubtedly a difficulty due to the best way the housing market works,” she stated. “As Manchester home costs go up and because the market evolves, and locations get gentrified, then you will notice the identical factor taking place.”

She stated the disaster would worsen over the subsequent six months: “I feel except there’s one thing extraordinary finished, I can’t see the way it wouldn’t.”

Mums at a drop-in session at The Magpie Project, which works to support families with children under five living in temporary



Mums at a drop-in session at The Magpie Mission, which works to assist households with kids below 5 dwelling in non permanent lodging

The Magpie Mission helps about 170 homeless mums at any given time offering a drop-in centre, meals parcels, and entry to authorized and immigration recommendation. Williams says of their expertise solely about 20% stay in non permanent housing that’s of sufficient high quality.

“The remaining have points,” she stated. “And I feel what’s actually surprising is, after I arrange the venture three years in the past, I believed these points had been when issues had gone improper. I believed these points had been odd instances the place the system had damaged down. However the creeping realisation happened that, no, that is the system.

“That is the system working.”

She stated native authority housing groups are at “the mercy” of enormous non-public landlords as a result of they’re competing with different councils to put households inside houses which can be obtainable. 

Talking in regards to the situations households can face, she stated: “What we are inclined to see is one room across the dimension of a parking house for a mom and little one. Not essentially any home windows, or [there are] damaged home windows, poor heating, infestations, extreme overcrowding, sharing bogs and kitchens.

“You may’t think about ever having the ability to carry up a toddler in these circumstances.”

‘The federal government is ignoring this disaster’

Two rough sleepers drag a mattress down the road in London's Mayfair in November



Two tough sleepers drag a mattress down the street in London’s Mayfair in November

Whereas councils and charities are braced for the numbers of latest homeless households needing non permanent lodging to proceed rising because the affect of the pandemic deepens, Shelter chief govt Polly Neate stated the problem has been utterly absent from the federal government’s coverage agenda.

“I get actually het-up about this as a result of it’s utterly ignored within the discourse about homelessness,” she stated. “So the federal government retains speaking about ending homelessness, however what they imply that’s tough sleeping. It’s to not say tough sleeping isn’t necessary, however it means these households simply get utterly ignored within the political discourse about homelessness.”

For context, authorities figures present 14,610 tough sleepers had been housed throughout lockdown. That compares to 98,300 households in non permanent lodging, sufficient to fill a big UK metropolis.

Neate stated Shelter works with homeless households dwelling in non permanent lodging “on a regular basis” and emphasised lots of them are in work.

She accused the federal government of doing nothing to assist low-income households priced out of the non-public rental sector who can not afford to purchase shared possession properties or first houses, and who make up a considerable proportion of these now dwelling in non permanent homeless housing.

“Often the federal government talks as if the housing disaster is tough sleeping at one finish and other people desirous to personal their very own houses on the different finish,” she stated. “The housing disaster is definitely in the midst of that. The housing disaster is the truth that there is no correctly reasonably priced housing. And are they coping with that? No, they’re not.”

She condemned the present system, saying:  “We’re pouring taxpayers’ cash into the pockets of personal landlords as an alternative of investing taxpayers’ cash to construct housing that folks on low incomes can really stay in. It’s type of the largest nonsense that no person actually is aware of about.

We’ve received to acknowledge the actual selections we’re making. By not constructing social housing we’re selecting this example and we have to come clean with that.”

The federal government, nonetheless, defended its place.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Native Authorities (MHCLG) stated it had spent £700m this yr to deal with homelessness – a determine lower than the £1.2bn spent on non permanent lodging councils in 2019/20.

The division didn’t dispute the rising numbers of individuals in non permanent lodging, however did say the variety of households with kids dwelling in non permanent lodging in England had fallen barely 270 from March to June this yr – from 62,970 to 62,700. 

MHCLG instructed HuffPost UK the general rise in figures was probably as a result of “Everybody In” programme to accommodate tough sleepers throughout the pandemic having resulted in additional people dwelling in non permanent housing organised councils. 

The federal government additionally introduced an extra £15m funding final month focused at areas with the best numbers of tough sleepers. 

However the council leaders HuffPost UK spoke to stated there had been no equal funding injection to assist councils with the prices of housing the rising numbers of households in non permanent lodging.

HuffPost UK requested for touch upon the problems highlighted this investigation from housing secretary Robert Jenrick and housing minister Christopher Pincher.

They didn’t remark. However an MHCLG spokesperson stated: “Everyone ought to have someplace protected to stay, and non permanent lodging performs a job in making certain persons are getting the assistance they want.

“We’re spending over £700m in whole this yr alone to deal with homelessness and tough sleeping. This can assist rework the lives of among the most susceptible in society.

“We’re additionally investing £11.5bn the Reasonably priced Properties Programme – the best single funding dedication to reasonably priced housing in a decade. We’ll ship a variety of reasonably priced houses of various tenures all throughout the nation.”

Neate, nonetheless, identified many of those houses, that are geared toward these seeking to purchase a property, are nowhere close to “reasonably priced” for precise low-income households.

“The people who find themselves priced out of the non-public rented sector aren’t individuals who can afford shared possession or first houses,” she stated. “All of those dwelling possession merchandise aren’t serving to this group of individuals.”





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