Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 - Motion for an humble Address

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:50 pm on 23rd September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Thornhill Baroness Thornhill Liberal Democrat 1:50 pm, 23rd September 2020

My Lords, very briefly and swiftly I shall give the local government perspective of the impact of this SI.

This pandemic has merely highlighted and exacerbated a growing problem—namely, that, with a significant reduction in social housing over many years, many low-waged earners are now privately renting and, as a direct consequence, are spending a higher percentage of their wages simply on putting a roof over their head.

Pre-Covid, the most common reason for people turning up homeless to their local council was eviction from a private tenancy. That figure is still at 74% nationally. In the longer term, we must reverse this decline and provide significantly more social, not affordable, housing. Just 6,000 homes for rent were built last year.

Local authorities, with government help from the Everyone In initiative, have taken 15,000 homeless people off the streets, but there is not the appropriate accommodation to house them permanently. Adding to this number by enabling further evictions will exacerbate an already difficult and unsustainable situation. Councils are using hotels and hostels, which is a temporary solution. In the last financial year, councils’ net expenditure on temporary accommodation was £140 million over budget. It is crucial that we prevent by whatever means possible any further homelessness.

To reduce evictions from the private sector, the Government should urgently bring forward their proposal to end Section 21 no-fault evictions and commit to maintaining the local housing allowance at the 30th percentile in the longer term. They should provide assurances to councils about the continuation of the much-needed discretionary housing payments for at least the next financial year and, finally, address the £2 billion local authority funding gap.