Cllr Jack Hopkins is the Leader of Lambeth Council and a councillor in Oval ward. Below is the full text of a letter Cllr Hopkins sent to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, about the government’s refusal to reinstate the ‘Everyone In’ scheme or extend the evictions ban.
Dear Secretary of State,
Just a few days ago (30th Dec 2020) , Kelly Tolhurst MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, wrote to councils like Lambeth urging us to continue the excellent work that we have done in housing homeless residents as part of ‘Everyone in’ during the pandemic. Today, the government has confirmed that it will not be restarting this vital scheme despite the introduction of a new national lockdown.
To not restart a fully funded ‘Everyone in’ programme now, when there is a new, more transmissible variant of COVID-19 sweeping through the capital, is an abdication of responsibility that will likely cost lives. As local authorities at the frontline of this battle, we are fully aware of the difficulties and the scale of the challenges that the pandemic poses.
Last year, Lambeth secured accommodation for 175 people sleeping rough on Lambeth’s streets, providing them warm and secure roof over their head and protecting them from the coronavirus pandemic that was raging across London. Now, government seem to be abandoning the same people to the pandemic, whilst pressuring already stretched and hugely underfunded local authorities after almost a year of the pandemic and over a decade of austerity.
Tenants also remain in limbo, not knowing whether the ban on evictions will be extended, or whether they will be at risk of being kicked out of their home. On top of this, councils are to receive no additional funding to address the acute health, social and economic impacts that the pandemic is placing on this group of vulnerable Londoners.
However, this pandemic necessitates swift and decisive action. If government do not urgently restart ‘Everyone in’, extend the moratorium on evictions and fund local authorities to continue to protect some of the most at-risk groups in society, I fear that the decision will cause untold damage and hurt to those without a home, at a time when government is telling people to stay at home.
I urge you to move swiftly on this so that local authorities such as Lambeth can continue the vital and necessary work outlined in the minister’s letter, and so that tenants can have clarity and peace of mind that they will be secure in their homes until this crisis has passed.
Cllr Jack Hopkins