Mansfield Council evicts one household per week as families struggle to pay rent

Mansfield Civic Centre
Mansfield Civic Centre

Mansfield District Council evicts one household each week from social and council homes, new figures reveal.

The Local Government Association has warned that households on Universal Credit are having increasing problems paying rent.

The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows that between April 2017 and March 2018, 40 households were evicted from council homes, nine fewer than the previous year.

The figure only includes properties recovered with a warrant from court bailiffs.

In Mansfield, nearly all evictions were due to rent arrears.

Mansfield District Council has a stock of 6,508 social homes. That means there was an eviction in six out of every 1,000 council owned homes.

Judith Blake, housing spokeswoman for the LGA, said that eviction is the last resort for councils.

She said: "The evidence indicates that arrears increase significantly for households on Universal Credit.

"The Government was right to have announced measures in the budget to partly address this, but it is vital that they work closely with councils.

"The ability of councils to provide extra support to people to keep arrears down is becoming increasingly limited and we also remain concerned about the significant reductions in housing benefit, which can leave households struggling to pay their rent."

The average social rent in Mansfield is £73.16 per week, lower than the average for England, which is £86.40.

By March 2018, tenants owed the council £628,459, excluding council taxes and water or heating bills.

Outstanding debts from former tenants who no longer live in council properties was £253,801.

Mansfield District Council took an average of 23 days to re-let homes following eviction, in line with the previous year.

Nationally, in the 12 months to March, there were 5,482 evictions from council homes, 6% fewer than the previous year.

Eight out of 10 evictions were due to rent arrears, while 7 per cent were caused by anti-social behaviour.

Mansfield District Council said that the figures quotes pre-date the roll-out of Universal Credit in the area.

Councillor Barry Answer, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “Evicting a council tenant is never something we do lightly and it is always the last resort. We note that the number of evictions in Mansfield was nine fewer in 2017/18 than the previous year and this may reflect the fact that in Mansfield we do work hard to prevent evictions if it is at all possible. Unfortunately it is not always possible.

“We have dedicated housing income officers who assist tenants with payment problems so that we can find a way for them to pay their rent arrears and stay in their home. We strongly advise any tenants struggling to pay their rent to get in touch with the council as soon as they can so that we can try to help them before further action is necessary.

“In advance of Universal Credit being introduced in Mansfield in September 2018 Mansfield District Council did a lot of preparation with partners to ensure appropriate resources and support are available to work with people receiving Universal Credit.”