Today, Labour MPs Apsana Begum (Poplar & Limehouse), Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham), Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) and Claudia Webbe (Leicester East) have written to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, urging him to take action to prevent an evictions and rental debt crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic (see letter attached).
In the letter, the MPs outline the precarious position of UK renters in light of Covid-19, calling for rent cancellation and debt forgiveness for those who cannot afford to pay, along with an extension to the current eviction ban (due to lapse at the end of June) and the abolition of Section 21 evictions.
Last month, a survey by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) estimated that 1.2 million renters had fallen through cracks in the current income support schemes to rely on Universal Credit payments.
The MPs’ letter follows earlier calls from renters’ unions including ACORN the union and London Renters’ Union for more robust protections for renters to limit the likelihood of homelessness or financial hardship incurred through rent payment.
Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar & Limehouse said:
“Many of the two million people who have been forced to rely on Universal Credit are finding what many in our benefits system have known for a long time: that welfare payments are too limited to cover basic living costs.
“We need specific measures targeted at renters to ensure nobody is left facing poverty or homelessness as a result of the current crisis.”
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham said:
“The Government’s refusal to rule out ending its evictions ban in late June leaves hundreds of thousands of renters staring down the barrel of homelessness, especially those who don’t qualify for current income support schemes.
“We can’t leave tenants to rely on the charity and good will of their landlords. We need binding legislation and stronger financial support to make sure people aren’t left facing homelessness or bankruptcy.”
Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South said:
“The current crisis makes it clearer than ever that Britain’s housing system is broken but is has also showed that we can take action to prevent homelessness if we choose to.
“It’s within the Government’s control to make sure nobody faces homelessness or insurmountable rental debts as a consequence of the current crisis. The measures outlined in our joint letter would go a long way towards ensuring this.”
Claudia Webbe, MP for Leicester East said:
“Renters are another group being badly left behind and let down by this Government. Policy decisions over the last ten years left UK renters in a precarious position at the outbreak of coronavirus. So far, the Government’s handling of the crisis has only made things worse for them.
“Refusing to extend the evictions ban is a political choice. Refusing to help renters facing financial hardship is a political choice.”
- ‘1.2 million private renters at high-risk of job loss and missing out on income support schemes’, New Economics Foundation, https://neweconomics.org/2020/05/1-2-million-private-renters-at-high-risk-of-job-loss-and-missing-out-on-income-support-schemes
- ‘Activists urge tenants hit by coronavirus crisis to stop paying rent’, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/may/14/activists-urge-tenants-hit-by-coronavirus-crisis-to-stop-paying-rent
- Full text of letter below.
For further information about this press release, please contact Ollie Collard, Communications Officer, Office of Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP at firstname.lastname@example.org