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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 September 2020

Eviction ban extension not enough: make it longer, forgive the arrears!

March for Homes, London, 31st January 2015, photo Paul Mattsson

March for Homes, London, 31st January 2015, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Jack Jeffery, secretary, Unite union housing workers' branch

At the last minute, on 22 August, the government announced the eviction ban would continue for another four weeks, along with a temporary extension of the notice period to six months. Although this was welcome news to those at risk, it should be extended for a much longer period.

It also does little to address the underlying issues. Years of ever-increasing rents have left many tenants stretched and living month to month, with Office for National Statistics figures showing rents hitting a record high just before lockdown.

Research by Shelter has exposed the crippling financial impact of the pandemic. It has put 230,000 tenants at risk of eviction due to arrears, with 174,000 threatened with eviction by their agent or landlord.

This is only likely to increase as the furlough scheme unwinds, with a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce showing a third of companies are planning to make redundancies. If cash-strapped renters are already struggling to afford rents, there is no way they will be able to pay back arrears.

Corbyn v Starmer

That is what Jeremy Corbyn realised when he argued that all rent arrears during the pandemic should be forgiven. Unfortunately, as soon as Keir Starmer took over, he scrapped this policy, replacing it with one to allow tenants to pay back their arrears over two years.

When challenged, Labour's shadow housing minister Thangam Debbonaire said any policy to forgive arrears would be "un-Labour" as it places landlords at risk of "going bust"! But a quick look at this approach reveals it does nothing to support tenants. A tenant who has fallen just three months behind with rent would have to pay 12% more each month, on top of already unaffordable rent!

All arrears accrued during the pandemic should be forgiven, with compensation only to small landlords, on the basis of proven need. Housing should be a right, not a privilege, and tenants should not have to pay for a housing crisis they didn't cause.


Short eviction reprieve is not enough

The Social Housing Action Campaign (Shac) protested on 23 August, just before the government's climbdown. A four-week extension to the eviction ban was won by action and protest. But it's not enough.

The impact of Covid and the economic crisis is going to last much longer. This Tory government has bailed out big business. If there is money for big business, then there can be money to build council homes, keep people in their homes, fight homelessness and keep housing co-ops above water.

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In The Socialist 2 September 2020:


News

Tory schools chaos - unions must fight for safety

Eviction ban extension not enough: make it longer, forgive the arrears!

Don't blame asylum seekers for Tory cuts

News in brief


Disability and Covid

Capitalism cause of disproportionate disabled deaths and isolation


No going back series

Welfare after Covid-19


Workplace news

Demand a fightback from the TUC and unions

Tate strike: "Coronavirus - no reason to fire us!"

B&Q worker reinstated: Organised response successfully challenges unfair dismissal

West Midlands journalists strike against pay and job cuts

Support Ikea workers - reinstate Richie Venton

London bus drivers poised for strike action


Join the socialists

Socialism on the rise


International

Fight racism, Trump and capitalism

Mass protests in Israel demand Netanyahu's resignation

Trotsky online rally - watched across the world


Campaigns

No Covid penalty on our future

Black Lives Matter: Fighting injustice, fighting for our rights

Nottingham: Socialists and anti-racists oppose right-wing march

No to polluting incinerator, dumped in working-class Edmonton

Scrap hospital parking charges

Liverpool: Support 15% pay rise for NHS

Lincoln: Save Drill Hall

Fundraising: An example to follow


Reviews

TV: Once Upon a Time in Iraq

Manctopia: billion pound property boom


 

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