Action should be taken by the Scottish government to protect people struggling to pay their rent this year from being evicted as the coronavirus crisis continues.
That’s the case being made by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), an anti-poverty campaign organisation, which has said it fears a “spike in evictions” in the autumn once an official ban on those processes ends in Scotland.
The eviction ban was introduced through emergency legislation soon after the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in March, with the aim being to protect people from being made homeless in the early part of the crisis.
But the JRF and others feel now that those same protections should continue to be provided beyond the initial six-month timeframe and into 2021.
Indeed, the JRF’s proposal is that evictions be banned across Scotland until September next year, with government also being urged to “step in where tenants are independently assessed as being unable to pay”.
The policy proposal is being put forward as a “housing lifeline”, with the Scottish government being encouraged to act quickly on the issue the end of the legally enshrined evictions ban not long away.
Various campaign groups and charities have called for policymakers to do more to protect individuals and households from eviction this year, with so many people having seen their incomes hit directly or indirectly by the coronavirus situation in recent months.
The debt help charity StepChange has estimated that there are nearly 600,000 households across the UK who have fallen into rent arrears since the pandemic began.
Its insistence is that people struggling to cope with the financial pressures bearing down on them currently should be given legal protections and direct support where possible to help them.
“The coronavirus emergency has wreaked havoc on people’s finances - it’s not right that this turmoil should be accompanied by the threat of eviction,” said Phil Andrew, StepChange’s chief executive.
“The government has shown through the announcement of its ‘Breathing Space’ scheme, that it recognises the importance of allowing those in financial difficulty the space to recover. People who have fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic need the same respite.”
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More than a third of workers in Scotland are fearful that they might lose their jobs at some point over the next 12 months.
Large numbers of households across Scotland could be facing serious financial problems once the option to defer their bills or their debt repayments ceases to be available.
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