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MP Group Demands End Of Extensions To Evictions’ Ban

MP Group Demands End Of Extensions To Evictions’ Ban

A powerful group of MPs demands that the government must stop giving last minute extensions to the evictions ban and should instead turn their attentions to giving financial help to private tenants.

Labour MP Clive Betts who leads the all-party Housing Communities and Local Government Committee, has told the government that they must set up a system of financial assistance for tenants who because of the pandemic have fallen into major debt to their landlords with rental arrears.

Betts urges the government to plan the support structure and announce it as soon as possible.

The committee states that it will be far cheaper to help renters pay back their arrears which would avoid high numbers of evictions. The government investing between £200m to £300m would be far more cost effective than having to pay out significantly higher costs on homelessness help over the long term.

The recently released report from the committee does however appreciate and applaud the government’s efforts to help the homeless find shelter during the early months of the pandemic and especially during the winter months; but the report is damning of how the government has handled renters.

Clive Betts says: “The ongoing crisis of rent arrears in the private rented sector is deeply concerning. The economic consequences of the pandemic could be long-lasting and become even more severe.

“The ban on evictions has ensured that people remain in their homes for now, but the debt will continue to increase. Landlords, many of whom only own one or two properties, will also be struggling with a loss of income.

“The government will have to find a solution that is workable for tenants and fair for landlords. The gravity of the situation means it should be treated just the same as other sectors of the economy and society that have a clear roadmap out of lockdown.

“Helping tenants pay their rent arrears would come at a cost, but would ultimately prevent significant expenditure on homelessness assistance further down the line.”

The MPs warn that the significant rise in rental arrears has been ”a looming cliff edge” during the Covid-19 crisis, and suggests the government to consider several ways in how it can give financial assistance to tenants.

The committee’s examples in how the government can provide financial support include low-interest loans introduced by Scotland and Wales and by improving discretionary housing allowances.

The committee states: “The critical element will be timeliness and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should bring forward a proposal as soon as possible.

“Helping tenants pay their rent arrears is the simplest and most straightforward way to avoid evictions and help landlords receive income. The committee received an estimate that such a rent arrears relief package could potentially cost between £200m and £300m; however given the number of potential evictions it could prevent it would likely save significant expenditure on homelessness assistance.”