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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

IPPR: immediate action needed to prevent surge in homelessness this winter

Think tank calls for return of eviction ban as new lockdown due to start in England

As England is set to return to lockdown, the IPPR think tank is today calling on the UK government to extend the ban on evictions for a further six months and provide more support for private renters to prevent a surge in homelessness this winter and beyond.

The government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme, and ban on evictions which expired in September, helped contribute to a dramatic drop in homelessness. The think tank points to government data that reveals that the number of people owed a homelessness duty from their council between 1 April and 30 June 2020 was down 11 per cent from the same time last year.

Government data also reveals that there was a 69 per cent decrease in the number of renters who were at risk of homelessness as a result of being served a section 21 evictions notice (no-fault eviction), when compared to the same period last year.

IPPR is now calling on the government to step up its efforts again to protect renters and prevent homelessness during the second wave.

The think tank is recommending that the UK government should take the following immediate steps:

  • Extend the ban on evictions in all areas of England for another six months until the pandemic is suppressed, including both applications to the courts and a stay on possessions.
  • Provide more financial help for those in the private rented sector, by increasing the local housing allowance to cover 50 per cent of market rates. Nearly half a million renters face a gap between their income through Universal Credit and their rent according to research released at the weekend by Generation Rent.

In the long-term, the thinktank is calling for far-reaching reform of the private rented sector, including calls to:

  • Introduce a mandatory open-ended tenancy, abolishing section 21 (no-fault eviction)
  • Cap rent increases to once a year, limiting them in line with the consumer price index
  • Establish a national landlord register to help improve the quality of private rented housing

Jonathan Webb, IPPR Research Fellow, said:

A new national lockdown has arrived at a time when many renters are already struggling to make ends meet.  The previous approach of providing different local guidance on possessions must now give way to a national strategy to prevent evictions.

 The government must put in place an immediate six-month evictions ban to provide renters with the security they need. It must act now to avoid a new surge in homelessness this winter and ensure homelessness does not rise in the future as a consequence of the pandemic.”

Luke Murphy, IPPR Associate Director, said:

“The re-introduction of a new lockdown across England could push many renters over the edge financially.

“The government has rightly extended the furlough scheme and mortgage holidays for owners but has yet to provide similar support for renters.

“There can be no worse gift than receiving an eviction notice just weeks before Christmas, the government must act to extend the evictions ban and increase the financial support available to renters.”

ENDS

Jonathan Webb and Luke Murphy are available for interview

CONTACT

Robin Harvey, Digital and Media Officer, [email protected]pr.org / 07779 204798

NOTES

  1. Recent reports with more detail on the recommendations outlined here are:
  2. Generation Rent figures on renters in arrears is available here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/01/half-a-million-tenants-in-the-uk-battle-to-pay-rent-due-to-benefit-cap
  3. Government experimental statistics on homelessness in England are rounded to nearest whole number and are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statutory-homelessness-in-england-april-to-june-2020
  4. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is the UK's only national think tank with a truly national presence. www.ippr.org