Thousands of children face being evicted from their homes and spending Christmas in temporary accommodation when early legal advice could have avoided this, the Law Society of England and Wales said.
The latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice for July to September 2023 show that mortgage possession claims increased by 14% and landlord possession claims increased by 19% compared to the same quarter last year. Thirty-five per cent of landlord possession claims were social landlord claims and 30% were private landlord claims.
Statistics also show there are 138,930 children living in temporary accommodation. Of those, 4,480 households with dependent children were in bed and breakfasts. This is up 93.1% from April to June 2022. Law Society of England and Wales president Nick Emmerson said.
“It is unacceptable that thousands of children and their families will have to celebrate Christmas in temporary accommodation, when they may have been able to remain in their homes if early legal advice had been provided,”
The increasing cost-of-living and high interest rates have heavily impacted people’s ability to afford their homes, so it is critical people are able to access legal help for their housing issues. Yet our research has found that 25.3m people (42%) do not have a local legal aid provider for housing advice.
We call on the UK government to focus on fixing the issues by ensuring that housing legal aid for those facing eviction or repossession is available in reality and not just in theory. No one should have to spend Christmas in cramped temporary accommodation when this could have been avoided.”