Fears of ‘homelessness wave’ when eviction ban ends

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

The ban was introduced in March as part of emergency legislation to protect those hit financially by the pandemic.

Amid fears that evictions may lead to more homeless, 21 MPs have urged the government to guarantee council funds to house rough sleepers for a year.

The government said it would “continue to provide appropriate support” to those affected.

Evictions in England and Wales had initially been suspended until 25 June but the pause was extended to 23 August.

Last month the Welsh Government stated that for evictions issued on or after 24 July this year, a six-month notice period would apply, with the exception of cases relating to anti-social behaviour.

In Scotland, a similar ban on evicting renters has been extended by six months until March 2021.

With the 23 August deadline now approaching MPs have urged the government to do more to protect the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in England “given the ongoing threat of coronavirus and the risk of a potential second wave”.

In a letter to rough sleeping minister Luke Hall, the MPs called on him to guarantee all local authorities in England can fund accommodation for the homeless “for at least a year” .

“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The MPs also urged the minister to scrap the Vagrancy Act – which still stands in England and Wales, having been repealed in Scotland. The Act allows police to arrest and fine people caught begging in public.

“We need to treat all rough sleepers with as much compassion as possible at any time, and especially in the present circumstances – there is no need for the Act to remain in place,” they letter stated.

It was signed by nine Labour MPs, one DUP MP and 10 Lib Dem MPs, including the two party leadership candidates Sir Ed Davey and Layla Moran.

In March, as the lockdown began, councils were told to move homeless people off the streets and out of communal shelters.

The government says about 14,500 people were found emergency accommodation across England.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said: “The Government has taken unprecedented action to support the most vulnerable people in our society during the pandemic.

“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.

“We will continue to provide appropriate support to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when court proceedings start again including the requirement for landlords to provide more information about their tenants’ situation when seeking an eviction, with judges able to adjourn a case if this information isn’t provided.”

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