On Friday, housing campaigners from Unite the Union, Cambridge Labour and Acorn Renters’ Union held a demonstration outside Cambridgeshire County Court to demand at least a 12 month extension to the Eviction Ban.
The ban on evictions was introduced by the government as part of a raft of measures to protect people during lockdown, it was due to end on Sunday and although the government have extended it for a mere 4 weeks, campaigners worry it will lead to thousands of tenants who may have fallen into rent arrears being evicted.
Acorn later took their banner to the Riverside/Chesterton pedestrian and cycle bridge to do a banner drop. The event was supported by Cambridge Labour Party and Cambridge and District Trades Council.
James Youd from Unite said;
“Shelter estimate that 227,000 tenants have fallen into rent arrears because of Coronavirus and the economic toll it has taken. It is wrong to put those in insecure jobs and struggling on furlough at the mercy of landlords, whose main motivation may not always be the welfare of their tenants. A guarantee that people won’t be evicted for at least the next year is needed.”
Daniel Zeichner Labour MP for Cambridge sent his support;
“We have a health crisis, a jobs crisis, an education crisis and an environmental crisis. Why on earth would the government want to add a homelessness crisis to that list? They have fair warning. With the furlough scheme coming to an end, it is clear we need emergency legislation to ensure no one will lose their home because of coronavirus. We need rapid changes to our broken housing system that will protect tenants, and an end to no-fault evictions. We also need a plan for those struggling with mortgage payments.”
Labour’s Executive Councillor for Housing on Cambridge City Council Richard Johnson reiterated the council’s commitment to protecting its tenants, adding;
“I am deeply concerned the Government have indicated they will not be extending the ban on evictions beyond September.
“Before the Government legislated for the ban, Labour’s city council took the proactive step in confirming eviction action would be suspended should a tenant be in direct or indirect financial hardship because of coronavirus.
“Even if the ban were to be lifted, our position will remain unchanged until further notice. No-one should be at risk of losing their home because of reasons beyond their control during this extremely challenging period.
“The country is in a deep recession, COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise again, and the furlough scheme is due to end in October. This is no time to pull the plug on protections for tenants. Robert Jenrick must extend the eviction ban now.
“However, if anyone renting does find themselves with an eviction notice, I would encourage them to get in touch with the council’s Housing Advice Team as they may be able to help.”