Former Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has spoken out against what he calls “the greed of the mega-landlords.”
The veteran MP - who was effectively deputy to former party leader Jeremy Corbyn - says: "Even before the [Coronavirus] crisis, tenants were being crushed between high rents and low wages. The Covid crisis has only made the situation worse.
“Meanwhile, UK billionaires have increased their wealth by more than 237 a day since the pandemic began.
“Enough is enough - we have to defend working people against the greed of the mega landlords. We need transformative solutions, like banning no fault evictions and cancelling all pandemic rent debt."
McDonnell’s comments come in a protest by left wing Labour group Momentum against the end of the bailiff-enforced eviction ban.
Momentum activists in London staged a mock eviction of Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick; other Momentum protests were held in Portsmouth, Southend, Hammersmith and Shipley.
Momentum is demanding: an end to section 21 evictions; the cancellation of all pandemic rent debt; and the extension of the eviction ban until the pandemic is over.
Momentum is also campaigning for a housing motion at the Labour party conference which, if passed, would commit Labour to building 100,000 council houses a year and give councils the power to requisition long-term empty homes and put them to use to solve the housing crisis.
The motion would also commit Labour to implementing a national housing system to house all those experiencing homelessness, regardless of immigration status.
Another Labour MP, Apsana Begum, told protesters: “The pandemic has hit renters incredibly hard. Now the Tories are letting vulnerable people be evicted during a pandemic in order to guarantee the profits of mega landlords.
"The government must take action to protect renters now. From banning 'no fault' evictions to cancelling pandemic rent debt, there are immediate steps we could take to prevent renters from bearing the brunt of the crisis."
Housing lawyer and QC David Renton added: “Under the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of tenants have been threatened with evictions by their landlord. So far, fortunately, the number actually evicted remains much less.
“My worry is that with the eviction ban going, these threats will turn into reality.”
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