Grahame Morris MP, Chair of the Unite the Union Parliamentary Group, and Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union, have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, demanding urgent action on the imminent expiration of the eviction ban.
The eviction ban was introduced at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, and is set to expire on 11th January.
Writing on behalf of Unite the Union, Mr McCluskey and Mr Morris stress that the lack of clarity for those facing eviction will have a potentially devastating effect on mental health at an already distressing time. They also highlight the health risk associated with bailiffs entering people’s homes.
The Scottish Government has already agreed to extend the eviction ban – which was set to expire on 22nd January – until the end of March 2021.
The letter also highlights the need for the Government to address the underlying factors that contribute to deep inequality in UK housing, in order to ‘[stop] this public health crisis from triggering a housing crisis.’
Signatories urge the Government initiate an immediate rent freeze alongside an increase in housing allowance, as well as immediate relief to those who have accrued rent arrears due to the impact of Covid-19 on their employment and income, stating that ‘the burden of this debt should be shared equally among landlords, the state, and tenants.’
They also call for adequate funding for local governments, and stricter regulations on landlords and letting agents.
Finally – as cases rise and temperatures drop – they urge Mr Jenrick to reimplement the ‘Everyone In’ campaign that was launched in March last year, which saw the provision of accommodation for rough sleepers.
The letter concludes: ‘people have a fundamental right to the security of a safe and liveable home, and the fact that so many do not have such security is a terrible indictment of our society, which remains one of the wealthiest in the world. Especially now, with so many making economic sacrifices for our collective wellbeing and facing toughening personal circumstances, the need for both urgent measures to address the Covid-related housing crisis and a long term housing strategy in this country has never been greater.’