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Mon, 3 August 2020

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Evictions set to resume next month as MPs warn of impending homelessness crisis

Evictions set to resume next month as MPs warn of impending homelessness crisis

Evictions will begin again next month, the government has confirmed (Credit: PA)

3 min read

The government has confirmed evictions are set to resume next month amid warnings of a potential homelessness crisis as the UK begins to emerge from lockdown.

Ministers suspended all removals from social and private rented accomodation when the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, preventing landlords from leaving people without a roof over their heads as the number of cases spiked. 

But the Government confirmed in response to a written Parliamentary question that the hiatus would come to an end in August. 

"On 5 June the Government announced that the current suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation will be extended by two months until 23 August 2020," said housing minister Lord Greenhalgh.

"From 24 August 2020, the courts will begin to process possession cases again. This is an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important right to regain their property.

"Work is underway with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need when possession cases resume."

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran branded the move "heartless", as campaign group Generation Rent warned homelessness could treble this year unless ministers move to support private renters.

“The idea that the government want to re-start evictions in the midst of a pandemic is unthinkable," the party leadership hopeful said.

"This threatens a wave of homelessness in towns up and down the country, which added to that the threat of local lockdowns could create a toxic cocktail for the disease to thrive.

"The government need to urgently rethink this heartless decision. If ministers are serious about the levelling up agenda, they need to act now to ensure vulnerable households across the country are protected.

"More support is urgently needed to help those struggling to pay their rent and prevent a rise in evictions.”

It comes as the Government announced an extra £500millio of funding for councils struggling to deal with the impact of the pandemic - but the Local Government Association has previously warned of a £10billion budget black hole.

“Many councils are on the brink of bankruptcy because of the costs of tackling Covid-19, so any help is welcome," said Labour's shadow communities secretary Steve Reed. 

"But if the Government breaks its promise to fund the costs in full, councils will be forced to cut back services like social care, youth activities and bin collections, and closed libraries and leisure centres might never reopen.

“This funding is a start, but we don’t know how it will be shared out and much of the detail is being held back until the autumn which might be too late to save many frontline workers’ jobs that are now at risk."

Labour said it was urging the government to "stick to its promise" to help councils deal with the fallout from the crisis.

"Councils have kept their part of the bargain, now the Government must do the same rather than punish local communities with cuts to the services they rely on," Mr Reed added.

 

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