DOZENS more homelessness cases are expected next month due to the amount of tenants falling into financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chronicle can reveal.
At the start of the lockdown in March, legislation was introduced that extended the notice period for evictions from two to three months with the government able to add a further three months if necessary.
The legislation did not stop landlords serving eviction notices on tenants, meaning that when the ban is lifted on September 20, many in Barnsley could be evicted from their homes with no notice periods.
Last Friday, government ministers extended the eviction ban until then following mounting pressure from tenants unable to pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic.
Coun Jenny Platts, cabinet spokesperson for adults and communities for Barnsley Council, said: “Our housing options team hasn’t seen a noticeable increase in people needing help during the pandemic.
“However, this is likely due to the eviction ban that has been in place.
“Once the ban is lifted, we expect that more people will need our services.
“We’ve been making sure people know about the financial assistance that can be accessed across the borough through the council and our partners.
“We’re encouraging people to contact services and let us know where they may have issues, both with rent arrears and other financial problems because of coronavirus.
“We’re working to make sure we provide help for our residents that is supportive and fair.
“Where people are experiencing difficulties in paying the rent for their property, we are encouraging them to contact Berneslai Homes.”
The Barnsley Rough Sleepers Project, which supports people across the borough, raised its concerns that homelessness rates are set to increase once the ban is lifted.
Andrew Crawford, from the group, believes the council should take further steps to ensure that people will be left without support when the ban is lifted.
He told the Chronicle: “I believe there’ll be a significant increase in rough sleeping numbers and those facing homelessness in the coming months.
“On an average week, we currently support between seven and 11 rough sleepers.
“We also provide support to others in need of food, clothes, toiletries or just a chat, but don’t include these in our weekly totals.”
Adie Flute, who runs the Barnsley Rucksack Project, added: “There are still big worries about what will happen by September when it’s lifted.
“Homelessness in Barnsley is not performing well compared to areas of a similar size, so when the ban is lifted this is a big concern.
“I worry the demand will be even greater.”
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