THE number of evictions from social housing in Cheshire West has spiked in the last two years, new Government figures reveal.

In 2018-19, there were 22 evictions from social housing in the borough – including 19 cases due to residents getting into rent arrears and three for anti-social behaviour.

That followed a previous peak for the borough in 2017-18, when there were 17 evictions, all because the residents had got into rent arrears.

In contrast, from 2011-12 to 2016-17 there had never been more than 10 evictions in a year.

The spike coincides with the roll-out of Universal Credit across the borough – but Cheshire West and Chester Council says that was not the main cause of evictions, with just five of those evicted last year being in receipt of the new benefit.

However, the rate of evictions appears to be back on the slide, with CWAC reporting a 73 per cent reduction so far in 2019-20 – a total of six with just two months remaining in the financial year.

Three of those were due to anti-social behaviour, while three were due to the resident getting into rent arrears.

CWAC says the improvement is down to a raft of changes made by social landlord ForHousing in the past year – including better financial assessments before tenancies begin, increased support to help tenants secure benefits they are entitled to and support to help residents into work.

A council spokesman said: “Eviction is always a last resort for the council and we want to help tenants stay in their homes.

READ > Market fire fundraiser hits the right notes with £12,500 raised for traders

“The data and case history of these failed tenancies show that Universal Credit is not the main factor for the evictions.

“The main cause was the difficulty in getting the tenants to engage with the service for help and support to prevent eviction.

"However, over the last year ForHousing has adopted a new approach and is building better and more supportive relationships with tenants, which is helping them sustain their tenancy.”