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Bring back eviction ban or face ‘catastrophic’ homelessness crisis, ministers told

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theguardian.com

The former head of the civil service has warned of a looming “catastrophic” homelessness crisis caused by the cost of living unless the government reintroduces the eviction ban that protected tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic.Sir Bob Kerslake, who chairs the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, said a failure to act “could see this become a homelessness as well as an economic crisis and the results could be catastrophic; with all the good achieved in reducing street homelessness since the pandemic lost, and any hope of the government meeting its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024 gone”.During the pandemic, the government made it much harder for landlords to evict tenants in rent arrears and was widely praised for averting a potential surge in homelessness and rough sleeping.

The response to soaring energy bills and other household costs to prevent people losing their homes now must be “equally urgent”, Kerslake said.In the first quarter of this year, the number of households in England assessed as homeless, or threatened with homelessness and owed a statutory homelessness duty, was up 5.4% on the same quarter in 2021 to 74,230.The commission is also calling on ministers to increase the benefit cap and raise benefits in line with inflation immediately – not in April 2023 as planned.And it wants to see local housing allowances – the amount paid to cover rent for welfare recipients – increased so they are in line with the bottom 30% of the market.

They have been frozen since April 2021.“The new prime minister has already announced plans to cap average household energy bills at £2,500 a year from next month,” said Kerslake. “And this, while welcome, is not enough.

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