Wednesday, 20 Jan 2021

How will the government prevent a flood of evictions in September?

Both were chaotic, both happened at the last minute and both have been labelled U-turns by the opposition.

But there is a crucial difference between the government’s tortured decision to ditch the exam results algorithm and the month-long extension to the evictions ban it has now granted to nervous rental tenants.

In the case of exam results, the problem came after the “successful” delivery of the original policy.

The government’s aim was to ensure pupils who had not actually sat any exams received grades that were not overly inflated.

The moderated system achieved that, but at the cost of such pronounced individual unfairness that ministers accepted the need to abandon the policy and adopt the least-worst alternative of slightly inflated teacher-predicted grades.

If the pain of individuals buffeted by a flawed exam system was enough to shift government policy, consider the likely impact when eviction notices start to be served on what the charity Shelter estimates to be 227,000 tenants in rent arrears.

But when it comes to the evictions ban, the policy has been abandoned without an alternative being set out.

The government has said it will increase the eviction notice period to six months, helping to support renters over the winter.

Still, with the exception of this, the government has given no sense of how it will prevent a flood of evictions while also avoiding a situation where landlords have to foot the bill of pandemic-induced rent arrears.

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