Homelessness fears grow in the North East as COVID-19 support schemes approach end date

23/09/21 - Houses in Newcastle
Property experts are expecting a rise in home repossessions in the North East. Credit: PA

A number of government support schemes launched during the pandemic are approaching their deadlines.

Furlough - which protected millions of jobs by paying up to 80% of wages - comes to an end on 30 September.

By this date, employers must have either decided to take back their furloughed workers or commenced the process of making them redundant.

In August, the government announced that it was scrapping the temporary £20 weekly increase in universal credit that began in 2020. As revealed by ITV Tyne Tees, 46% of families in the North East will be affected when the scheme comes to an end on 6 October.

Other schemes have already been withdrawn.

Coronavirus related mortgage holidays allowed homeowners to defer repayments, but they came to an end on 31 July 2021.

The government also protected renters by drawing up legislation preventing bailiffs from carrying out evictions. This ended on 31 May 2021.

All this has led to concerns about rises in unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

26-year-old Bozart Rudolf is unemployed and fears what the future has in store.

Many welfare charities are urging the government to extend the support schemes.

Homelessness charity Shelter is among them. If the schemes are ended, Chief Executive Polly Neate believes a crisis is around the corner.

The number of home repossessions during the COVID-19 crisis is down by roughly half on pre-pandemic figures. Many say this is a result of government measures.

But between February 2020 and May 2021, almost 900 homes across the North East were still repossessed.

Property expert Tayo Oguntonade from Mackenzie Weller Management expects this number to rise considerably.

He advises those at risk to inform their mortgage providers.

The Government told us it is monitoring levels of repossession.

"During the pandemic, housing possession action was suspended in the courts from March 2020 to September 2020, and a ban on repossessions was in place from November 2020 until the end of May 2021," a spokesperson said.