Covid Recovery Secretary John Swinney has been urged to extend a ban on tenant evictions when Holyrood renews pandemic emergency laws this week.
Scottish Labour called on the protection against tenants being removed during the pandemic to be extended into areas in Level 1 and 2 restrictions. Current legislation only protects tenants in level 3 or above.
A six-month extension of emergency measures granted under the Scottish Coronavirus Acts will be scrutinised and debated by MSPs over three days this week, beginning on Tuesday.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson on Covid recovery, said: “It is simply unthinkable that we remove this vital safety net while we are in the midst of this crisis and whilst businesses still remain under significant restrictions and the furlough scheme is about to unwind.”
Baillie also said the Scottish Government’s £10 million Tenant Hardship Loan Fund was supposed to help people avoid the risk of losing their homes because of pandemic-related financial pressures, but so far only £490,000 has been paid.
She said: “It is not a viable solution to people’s housing debt to put them into more debt. I would therefore urge the government to turn this into a grant fund rather than a loan fund. Changing the eligibility criteria and making the fund more accessible will help prevent evictions that have arisen due entirely to the impact of Covid-19.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have provided support totalling £29 million to tenants during the pandemic. We have also encouraged everyone who may need advice to seek it and make sure they are accessing all eligible benefits.
“We have made clear throughout that taking eviction action against those who have suffered financial hardship should be an absolute last resort, and have put legislation in place requiring landlords to work with tenants to manage rent arrears before seeking eviction.”
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