Scotland could soon be facing a “tidal wave of evictions” unless action is taken to protect people whose incomes have been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.
That is the view of Scottish member of parliament and co-leader of the Green Party Patrick Harvie, who has called on first minister Nicola Sturgeon to make sure tenants aren’t being routinely evicted in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic.
Mr Harvie was speaking in the context of discussions around an amendment to proposed emergency coronavirus legislation coming before the Scottish parliament.
The amendment was focussed on the issue of protecting tenants from eviction and rent increases but Ms Sturgeon described the proposed changes to the measures put forward by the SNP as being “flawed” and “unnecessary”.
Ms Sturgeon also argued that the amendments to her government’s legislation might have “serious negative unintended consequences”.
Mr Harvie insisted that the government needs to be doing more to protect people living in Scotland from eviction and from homelessness.
“It’s hard to see now what is going to prevent a tidal wave of evictions sweeping people into homelessness services, which were barely coping before the pandemic,” he told the first minister.
The Scottish Greens co-leader went on to say that the virus crisis presents the government with a “once in a lifetime opportunity to end homelessness” and called for something other than a return to the status quo regarding homelessness and housing precarity.
Ms Sturgeon responding by saying: “I would never, ever, ever have wished for the circumstances in which we’re having these discussions but it is undoubtedly the case that it gives us an opportunity to change things for the better.
“And that’s something I’m determined to try to do and everybody has a contribution to make to that and a part to play.”
The Scottish government recently announced it was bolstering by £5 million its funding for the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme, which allocates funds via local authorities to help struggling tenants cover the costs of paying their rent.
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