“A third of workers have already taken a financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic, a poll showed tonight…Shockingly, 11% say they have been evicted from their homes – despite the temporary ban on rental evictions.”
Daily Mirror, 26 March 2020
Given the economic impact of Covid-19, concern has been raised that evictions during this period could leave people extremely vulnerable.
One statistic reported in the Daily Mirror was that 11% of UK workers who have taken a financial hit from the pandemic report having been evicted from their homes, despite a ban on evictions.
While experts say that evictions have increased due to the coronavirus pandemic, this figure vastly overestimates the likely scale of the increase.
The underlying data comes from a survey commissioned by campaign group Compassion in Politics. It commissioned research agency Opinium to survey a representative group of UK adults between 20-24 March who were working prior to the new coronavirus outbreak.
Of those who said that their work was impacted by the new coronavirus, 11% said they had been evicted. This accounts for 4% of everyone who was in employment before the outbreak.
With 33 million people employed in the UK in January this year, this would equate to around 1.3 million workers being evicted (to say nothing of their families).
This number far exceeds the housing charity Shelter’s figure of 20,000 formal evictions (though this doesn’t include informal evictions which don’t involve any court proceedings), which is based on ongoing eviction cases in the courts which began before the government’s recent ban on evictions. Those are taking place due to all reasons, and not just coronavirus-related ones.
Grantley White Senior Research Executive at Opinium told us: “When it comes to the exact number of evictions taking place, this is a number that will be hard to understand for a number of methodological reasons. Nonetheless, we would expect that Shelter’s figures are very close to being an accurate representation because they will be using a methodology specifically designed to establish such detailed figures - our survey was aimed at capturing broader trends.”
We asked Shelter about the number of recent evictions and a spokesperson told us: “Anecdotal evidence plus our experience researching housing and homelessness, and the private rented sector particularly, tell us that there almost certainly has been a spike in formal and informal evictions in the period just before the Government’s protections come into force.
“However the level reported in this story and by the Opinium poll does not intuitively feel right.”
Shelter added: “It seems clear to us that there has been some misunderstanding of this question by respondents and that perhaps fears of not being able to afford to pay for their housing, have in some cases got mixed up with actual eviction.
“This is not to say that we are not extremely concerned about a probable rise in evictions as the implications of the virus on the UK have been becoming clear.”