YESTERDAY the temporary ban on evictions in England ended, leaving hundreds of thousands of people facing being thrown out of their homes for rent arrears.
A survey of renters and homeowners by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed that 400,000 people have already been served with eviction notices or have been informed by their landlords that they face being evicted due to rent arrears run up during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, the JRF found that a further 450,000 have fallen into arrears from which they see no way of escaping.
Local councils in England are warning Tory ministers that, without any permanent protection for all those people and families struggling to pay their rent as a result of the pandemic, the country faces falling over a ‘cliff edge’ of homelessness in the coming months.
A further study from the homeless charity Shelter found that about 1.9 million privately renting adults in England are scared of eviction and have already cut back on heating and food to pay the rent or have entered into even more debt to pay it off.
According to the JRF, a third of those in arrears have borrowed money during the pandemic to try to cover rent repayments.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: ‘The end of the evictions ban is a day many terrified renters are dreading. The next few months present a scary time for the hundreds of thousands of renters who are in debt and already cutting back on just about everything, including food, to pay their rent. They know they are hanging on to their homes by a thread. The clock is now ticking for the government to stem the tide of evictions or face an even bigger homelessness crisis.’
As far as the Tories are concerned, the clock stopped ticking yesterday when their temporary ban on bailiff-enforced evictions ended, and now an inevitable tsunami of evictions will follow with hundreds of thousands being thrown onto the streets.
With a court order eviction hanging over their heads, these families will find it next to impossible to secure anything like decent rented accommodation, thus condemning millions to a life of housing insecurity and poverty.
Ever since the temporary ban on evictions was introduced by the Tories at the start of the pandemic, they made it clear that there would come a day of reckoning when the landlords demanded their money back and debts repaid.
The Local Government Association has called on the government to ‘improve’ short-term welfare support for workers and to end no-fault evictions and give councils powers to acquire empty homes to deal with the homelessness crisis.
None of these appeals cuts any ice with a Tory government determined that all debt by workers be paid in full.
In a statement, the government said that with national restrictions being eased it is ‘the right time to start to lift the emergency measures we put in place,’ claiming that financial help is still available ‘such as the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of September.’
In fact, when furlough ends it will bring about the wholesale closure of businesses and companies with millions of workers facing unemployment and a future of poverty and homelessness.
The working class will not stand being thrown into the gutter by a bankrupt capitalist system that puts the profit of the landlords above the lives of workers and their families.
Workers must set up Councils of Action throughout the country for mass action to stop all evictions, and to prepare a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
A workers’ government will take over all the empty properties owned by the capitalist class to ensure no-one is left homeless, and nationalise the building industry and land to swiftly build millions of council houses needed to provide decent housing for every worker and young person.
Only by taking the power and smashing capitalism with a socialist revolution can the working class have any future.
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