Thousands of renters are only days away from homelessness unless the government extends the ban on evictions due to end on Monday (11 January), Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, warned today (Thursday 7 January).

The union is calling on the Westminster government to do ‘the decent thing’ and follow the example of the Scottish Government which has extended the evictions’ ban until 31 March.

Millions of people in the UK rent and many have struggled with payments as a result of income insecurity and unemployment caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The ban on evictions has been a lifeline during this time, but with this soon to be removed, the union fears that families face being thrown onto the street at the coldest time of the year.

In a letter to housing, communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, and Easington MP Grahame Morris called for ‘immediate steps’ to extend the eviction ban and give renters the necessary security of tenure, while the virus is still rampant.

Unite also urged ‘bold action’ to address the wider housing crisis that predated Covid-19, including the 2019 Tory election pledge to abolish Section 21 – the first step for a landlord to apply for a ‘no fault’ eviction, where no reason has to be given for the eviction.

Ministers should also reinstate the ‘Everyone In’ emergency policy of March 2020 with a nationwide ‘Everyone Back In’ effort for those living on the streets at a time when Covid-19 cases are again so high and temperatures so low.

In the letter, Len McCluskey and Grahame Morris said: “The ban is due to end despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a new national lockdown and the wide-reaching economic crisis that is occurring as a result. The government must take immediate steps to extend the eviction ban and give renters the security they need at this distressing time.

“The current lack of clarity for those potentially facing eviction is unacceptable and unnecessary, and is taking a devastating toll on many people’s mental health in what is already an extremely difficult time. 

“Furthermore, given the extremely high number of cases across the UK, bailiffs should not be allowed to enter homes as this would place even more members of the public at risk. 

“The government needs to take bold action to address the underlying factors that are driving the housing crisis. 

“The government must initiate an immediate rent freeze alongside a much-needed increase in housing allowance. This would provide support for individuals, as well as struggling local economies.  

“Those who have accrued rent arrears due to the impacts of Covid-19 on their income and employment should also be given immediate relief. The burden of this debt should be shared equally among landlords, the state, and tenants. 

“People have a fundamental right to the security of a safe and liveable home, and the fact that so many do not have such security is a terrible indictment of our society, which remains one of the wealthiest in the world.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.