Two people a week are evicted from their homes in South Tyneside
Two people a week are being evicted from their homes in South Tyneside, according to new figures.
The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows that - between April 2017 and March 2018 - 91 people were evicted from their council homes in the borough - two more than the previous year.
In South Tyneside nearly all evictions were due to rent arrears.
South Tyneside Council has a stock of 17,051 social homes - meaning an eviction in five out of every 1,000 council owned homes.
Coun Ed Malcolm, lead member for resources and Innovation at South Tyneside Council and Chairman of South Tyneside Homes Board, said: “We strive to maintain tenancies and have an early intervention approach to help support those who are struggling to pay their rent.
“This includes providing tenants with advice on how to manage their tenancies and their finances as well as information about benefits available and support to help address wider issues such as employment, debt, health and caring responsibilities.
“As a social landlord, we are committed to lowering rent arrears and reducing evictions. However, this has not been helped by austerity, the rising cost of utility bills and the introduction of the Government’s controversial welfare reforms such as Universal Credit.
“It is important to note that eviction is only ever used as a last resort.”
The average social rent in South Tyneside is £72.36 per week. To March last year, tenants owed the council £2.47m.
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Outstanding debts from former tenants who no longer live in council properties was £2.28million.
Paul Oliver, operations and development manager at the charity Hospitality and Hope said: “We are seeing more and more people coming through our doors in crisis and the vast majority are have benefit problems.
“Some people moving onto the new Universal Credit system are having to wait up to five weeks without money which is affecting their ability to pay rent.
“Statistics show the issue is only going to get worse.ne. We have people who can’t navigate the system which then puts their payments back even further.
Last week it emerged that South Tyneside Council spent £200,000 in six months last year on emergency housing payments.
The council also assumes some responsibility for those evicted.
Coun Mark Walsh, lead member for housing and transport, said: “We have a dedicated housing options and homelessness team, available daily and across the borough to give advice and guidance to those affected by homelessness.
“The team is equipped to seek alternative accommodation for individuals and families. Each case and scenario is addressed on an individual basis as to how they can be accommodated, but no one is turned away without support, accommodation, advice and guidance.”