A prominent member of the House of Lords and a rental activist are calling for an immediate suspension of all Section 24 evictions, pending a change in the law.
Lord Bird of Notting Hill, founder and editor-in-chief of The Big Issue magazine, says evictions over the summer and autumn will contribute to “an avalanche of homelessness this autumn once Covid-related support ends.”
He comments: “Millions of people in this country are behind in household bills, half a million are in rent arrears and nearly 200,000 homeowners are in financial difficulty.
“More people are at risk of homelessness now than at any time in living memory. Against a background of 1.9m jobs at risk of permanent loss from the pandemic, this should be ringing alarm bells throughout the country.
“The government was quick to support us when they put over 37,000 homeless people into accommodation in the first lockdown. We need a similar urgent approach to prevent an avalanche of homelessness this autumn.”
His call is backed up by a Baroness Alicia Kennedy, director of the campaign organisation Generation Rent.
She says: “The number of private renters getting Universal Credit has doubled since the start of the pandemic, and the level of support it provides is not enough to cover the rent. That means people getting behind on rent and at risk of eviction.
“Even if their income recovers, it will be impossible to pay off all this debt while staying on top of other bills.
“The government must step in and clear this rent debt and let renters get on with their lives. Otherwise society will pay a higher price through a homelessness crisis.”
Today’s edition of The Big Issue claims that in the first quarter of 2021, there were 632 mortgage repossessions and rental evictions across the UK, “meaning a new household was made homeless every three and a half hours.”
The Big Issue says there are four developments which will create homelessness this year - an end to the Universal Credit uplift, an increase in evictions and repossessions, an end to the furlough scheme and a predicted increase in the cost of electricity and gas.
The magazine says the government should introduce a raft of measures include introducing a system of means-tested grants or interest-free-loans to repay arrears and suspending evictions until a Renters’ Reform Act can be passed.
A campaign has been launched, encouraging the public to get involved by signing a petition and putting themselves forward as local campaign champions. Organisers are also asking people to write to their local politicians in support of the proposals.