Extra support to help protect rough sleepers and renters from the effects of COVID-19 has been announced by the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today (8 January 2021).
Backed by an additional £10 million in funding, all councils in England are being asked to redouble their efforts to help accommodate all those currently sleeping rough and ensure they are swiftly registered with a GP, where they are not already.
This will ensure they can be protected from the virus and contacted to receive vaccinations in line with the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Councils will also be asked to reach out again to those who have previously refused help, given rising infection rates and the colder winter months.
Renters will continue to be supported during the new national restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases for at least 6 weeks – until at least 21 February – with measures kept under review.
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
Court rules and procedures introduced in September to support both tenants and landlords will remain in place and regularly reviewed. The courts will continue to prioritise cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector.
Landlords continue to be required to give six-month notice periods to tenants until at least 31 March except in the most serious circumstances.
Councils will work closely with local health partners to ensure those sleeping rough are able to access the COVID-19 vaccine in line with the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
This will be done through a GP, or by other means if mainstream provision is unsuitable, ensuring that the wider health needs of rough sleepers are addressed and assessed for clinical vulnerability to COVID, supporting them now and for the future.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:
Steve Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said:
A new mediation pilot will further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month (February). It will offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.
Helping to resolve disputes through mediation will enable courts to prioritise urgent cases, supporting landlords and tenants to resolve issues quickly without the need for a formal hearing. The mediation pilot will work within the existing court arrangements in England and Wales.
The protections for renters are on top of the comprehensive package of support the government has put in place to help households, including support for businesses to pay staff salaries and strengthening the welfare safety-net by billions of pounds.
This has helped to protect renters from the economic fallout of the pandemic by supporting them meet their outgoings, including paying their rent.
The government has also provided support for rough sleepers during the pandemic. This £10 million investment builds on more than £700 million government spending on homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone.
Through Everyone In, by November the Government had supported around 33,000 people with nearly 10,000 in emergency accommodation and over 23,000 already moved on into longer-term accommodation.