Friday 18 September 2020 Stories

Government incompetence is causing an evictions crisis

Blog by Thangam Debbonaire

The evictions ban is due to be lifted on Sunday. The Government’s handling of the evictions ban has been chaotic and incompetent, and renters will pay the price.


Back in March, the Government couldn’t even bring in the ban properly. When the Coronavirus Act was published, it fell well short of promises, and my predecessor John Healey had to force the government to strengthen it.


The original ban was only for three months. It was extended in June for two months, which was welcome. But in that time the government took no steps to prepare for what was going to come next.


In July, the government caused chaos when they published legislation on evictions, but forgot to publish the guidance it referred to until four days later.


When it became clear that lifting the ban in August would be a disaster, the Government performed an 11th-hour u-turn and extended the ban, but only for a month.  The government has wasted those four weeks, and we now face largely the same cliff edge on Sunday that was narrowly avoided in August.


I keep asking the Govt how many people they think will be made homeless, and what their plans are support councils who will ultimately be helping people affected.  But they still don’t know.


In March, the Housing Secretary promised “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home“. The ban cannot be lifted until he has a credible plan to keep that promise.


As Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, I am extremely worried about this unfolding crisis. Like the A-level results crisis last month or the COVID testing crisis happening right now, ministers have had months to prepare – but seem only able to act when problems become desperate.