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Appeal to protect tenants from eviction and surge in homelessness as Conservative Government drop ‘no evictions’ and ‘no benefit sanctions’ approach.

Appeal to protect tenants from eviction and surge in homelessness as Conservative Government drop ‘no evictions’ and ‘no benefit sanctions’ approach.

Concerns that plans to end moratorium on evictions and reintroduce benefit sanctions amid Covid-19 could force more onto streets
Green Councillors joined calls for stronger support for tenants facing eviction and benefit sanctions at a meeting of Full Council last week.

A Conservative Government announcement designed to protect tenants from eviction during the Covid-19 crisis will come to an end on 23 August – despite the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic.

At a meeting of Brighton and Hove Full Council, a proposal from Labour Councillors and Green Councillors will now see the council contact the Government to request that the evictions ban be extended beyond September.

The letter to ministers will also request a number of further measures, including lifting of the benefit cap, the ability for councils to set local rent controls, and will press Government to bring forward plans to abolish Section 21, or ‘no fault,’ evictions. [3]

The requests follow a joint letter Cllr Nancy Platts and Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, urging the Government to consider the impact of Covid-19 on rough sleepers and calling for support to keep people housed. [4] As part of the Covid-19 response, Brighton and Hove City Council moved to provide all rough sleepers with accommodation – and there are now concerns that benefit sanctions, coupled with evictions, will see many more forced into homelessness.

Green Councillors spoke of the ‘disgrace,’ of Conservative Government plans to reintroduce welfare benefit sanctions at a time when the UK faces an employment ‘crisis.’ [5] As part of proposals put to the vote at the meeting, the council will now work positively with tenant organisations and seek to prevent council tenants in arrears between 23rd March – 5th July from facing eviction.

Councillor David Gibson, Joint Chair of Housing Committee said:

“Lifting the moratorium on evictions could unleash an avalanche of homelessness. We urge government to follow the example of Scotland and keep the moratorium on evictions in place. Government also needs to deliver now on its pledge to ban no fault evictions. The joint Green- Labour motion to council last week urged the government to keep the moratorium in place and give tenants more time. It also pledged that as a landlord the council will not evict for arrears arising from the pandemic.

“As part of the “everyone in” response to the pandemic, we have housed very many rough sleepers and prevented others from having to rough sleep. So to resume evictions now comes at completely at the wrong time! We have a unique opportunity to secure long-term housing for these people and are poised to turn rough sleeping around, but plans to introduce benefit sanctions and recommence evictions are likely to wreck all this progress. It is heartless.

“We are writing to landlords asking them not to evict and, instead, to explore ways of working with tenants to find ways of keeping a roof over their heads. The council can offer support to mediate and help sustain people’s tenancies.”

NOTES

[1] https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/documents/s156701/Item%2035%2005%20LabGrp%20-%20Housing%20NOM%20final.pdf

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-on-evictions-extended-by-2-months-to-further-protect-renters

[3] https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8658/

[4] https://new.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Brighton%20%26%20Hove%20City%20Council%20Letter%20to%20Dame%20Louise%20Casey%2029.05.20.pdf

[5] https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/employment-crisis-builds-as-649000-lose-their-jobs/

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