Housing

There’s one week left to stop a tidal wave of evictions in England

The evictions ban is being lifted on August 23, leaving renters hit hard by Covid-19 with no protection from homelessness. Our Ride Out Recession Alliance, politicians and campaigners are urging the Government to take action

The time is now. There is now just one week remaining until the eviction ban lifts in England – the end of a Covid-19 safety net that has stood between those hit hard financially by the pandemic and homelessness.

The Ride Out Recession Alliance is making one last push to change ministers’ minds to prevent a tidal wave of evictions as the financial fallout of the Covid-19 crisis continues.

We know that it has been a tricky ask – Parliament has been on summer recess since July 22 – but we also know that the measures put in by the government have been the only protection from homelessness for thousands of people who have seen their income slashed by the pandemic.

There has also been action in other parts of the UK, underlining the urgency of the situation. The Welsh Government had already announced that tenants will be given six months’ notice of eviction before their Scottish counterparts signalled their intentions last week.

The eviction ban was due to end on September 30 in Scotland but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted that her government wanted to extend the ban until March, subject to a Holyrood vote. It was a move that was hailed by campaigners, with Shelter Scotland calling the news “a big win for our supporters and us” and tenants’ union Living Rent also tweeting their joy and urging more help for renters who have fallen into arrears.

Away from RORA, there is growing opposition from politicians in England too. On Sunday, 21 MPs, led by Lib Dem Layla Moran, penned an open letter to Homelessness Minister Luke Hall, warning that the eviction ban must not be a “temporary measure”. They also called for the Vagrancy Act to be scrapped and more support for renters while the prospect of a Section 21 “no fault” eviction order remains in place, despite Government plans to axe them.

The letter read: “We cannot put a cut-off on showing compassion to all those in need at this time. We can’t allow barriers to be erected.

The evictions deadline on 23 August threatens a new wave of homelessness, and we need to treat all rough sleepers with as much compassion as possible at any time, especially in the present circumstances.”

Similarly, former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told The Guardian that the evictions ban should be extended: “McDonnell said: “Many people are becoming desperately worried that they will now face evictions. Many cannot rely upon the goodwill of their landlords to prevent them losing their homes. That’s why it is premature to end the ban on evictions, especially with so many jobs being lost and incomes drying up.”

In response, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government have responded by promising that “appropriate support” will be available for renters when court proceedings resume on August 24.

But in England, the cliff edge is drawing closer. And the time is now to make sure the decision-makers hear our voices. It’s time to get involved.

Tell your MP why the eviction ban must be extended (head to writetothem.com to find your local representative if you’re unsure), back Generation Rent’s petition to extend the ban and join the Social Housing Action Campaign’s demonstration outside the Central London County Court on August 23 (email shac.action@gmail.com to join up).

And, of course, we are still welcoming your big ideas to protect jobs and prevent rising homelessness. Keep telling us yours at bigissue.com/rora now.

Our actions will set out the course England takes in the months to come as the recession impacts on jobs and lives. So much good work has been done to prevent homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot stop now.

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