Wales

Shelter Cymru: 500 children made homeless after evictions

Shelter Cymru says evictions can have a "devastating" impact Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Shelter Cymru says evictions can have a "devastating" impact

Hundreds of children were made homeless in Wales last year through social housing evictions, a charity has found.

Shelter Cymru has published a report highlighting the human and financial impacts of evictions to coincide with World Homelessness Day.

It shows social landlords evicted about 914 households in Wales last year, including 500 children.

The Welsh Government said a new law brought in last year had helped prevent more families from becoming homeless.

The evictions came at a cost of £24.3m to the Welsh economy, including £7.5m to the landlords themselves.

The report said evictions could have a "devastating" impact on tenants who find themselves without support to find stable housing, and facing long term homelessness.

'Trapped and helpless'

Nerys, who cannot be identified, moved into a housing association tenancy with her son after her abusive ex-partner was jailed.

She had hoped to start a new life, but soon found herself in arrears after confusing housing benefit claim forms.

"They sent me a letter telling me I'd been overpaid by £800. So I started off my new tenancy in arrears, through no fault of my own," she said.

Despite explaining her financial situation and her inability to work, her arrears built up to almost £2,000.

"I felt trapped and helpless," she said.

"I was so depressed and worried about my son and I ending up on the street."

Image caption Three out of four people interviewed said they were still homeless six months after their eviction

Shelter Cymru also found there were "inconsistencies" in approaches to preventing evictions.

Before taking a tenant to court, landlords are required to follow a rent arrears protocol.

But the report found referrals to homelessness prevention services were "patchy", something Shelter Cymru said was "unacceptable" when it comes to "something as fundamental as a person's home."

Jennie Bibbings, Shelter Cymru campaigns manager said: "The findings of our study are very worrying in terms of inconsistencies between Welsh social landlords' approaches to preventing evictions.

"We sincerely hope that this report resonates with social landlords and their belief in the social ethos of the service that they provide."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We thank Shelter for their report, which we will study closely.

"Last year, legislation to help ensure everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness gets the help they need came into effect.

"The first year's statistics are very encouraging, with homelessness successfully prevented for almost two-thirds of all households assessed as threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

"We provided an additional £5.6m to help local authorities prepare for and implement the new duties and we will continue to support local authorities to improve on this very positive start."

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