MPs warn of ‘new wave of homelessness’ when eviction ban ends this week

Landlords told the government extending the ban was unnecessary

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 17 August 2020 15:55
The number of people sleeping rough in the UK doubled between 2012 and 2017
The number of people sleeping rough in the UK doubled between 2012 and 2017

A “new wave of homelessness” could sweep England when a ban on evictions ends this month, MPs have warned.

The temporary extra security for tenants was introduced in March to protect people hit by the pandemic, but the government has declined to extend it despite a coming recession.

Now a group of 21 MPs says the the UK government should guarantee funding for local authorities to house anyone forced to sleep rough.

The ban had originally been set to end in England on 25 June but it was extended to 23 August – this Sunday.

The Scottish government says it might extend its similar ban to March 2021, while the Welsh government has doubled the notice period required for evictions to six months, with some conditions.

In a letter, first reported by the BBC, the MPs wrote to rough sleeping minister Luke Hall: “Some local authorities are in the process of confirming and funding accommodation for rough sleepers for another year, however it is so important that all councils are able to provide this.

“We cannot put a cut-off on showing all those in need compassion at this time,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by 10 Liberal Democrat MPs, including the party’s two leadership candidates Layla Moran and Ed Davey. It was also signed by nine Labour MPs and one DUP MP.

The number of people sleeping rough in the UK already doubled between 2012 and 2017.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government spokesperson said the government had taken “unprecedented action to support the most vulnerable people in our society during the pandemic”.

They added: “Nearly 15,000 rough sleepers have been housed in emergency accommodation since the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve also ensured no tenants have been evicted at the height of Covid.”

Last week new figures showed that UK employment fell by 220,000 between April and June, the largest quarterly fall since the aftermaths of the global financial crisis in 2008.

While unemployment has yet to rise significantly, it is expected to hit record highs when the government’s furlough scheme ends later this year.

The National Residential Landlords Association welcomed the end of the eviction ban and said it was “not necessary” to extend it.

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