For thousands of people worried about paying the rent this month, this must feel like Groundhog Day. On Monday, the ban on evictions will expire, allowing landlords to take their tenants to court and evict them.
The deadline on 20 September follows an extension of the ban in June and another extension in August. Despite these attempts to buy extra time, the Tories have done little to help renters who have fallen into arrears because of the pandemic. Unless they urgently come up with a plan, there will be a huge spike in evictions and homelessness this autumn, just as the furlough scheme ends, people lose jobs and coronavirus cases rise again.
For many months now, Labour has been outlining some simple steps the government could take to keep people in their homes. This includes changes to benefits and legal changes to give courts discretion – right now they have no choice but to issue an eviction order when tenants are two months in arrears. But so far, this incompetent government has failed to listen.
As Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, I am extremely worried about this unfolding crisis. Like the A-level results crisis last month or the COVID testing crisis happening right now, ministers have had months to prepare – but seem only able to act when problems become desperate.