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PROTESTS will sweep towns and cities in England and Wales on Monday against government plans to reverse protections for home tenants and renters from eviction and debt during the coronavirus crisis.
Socially distanced rallies and banner-drops are planned in 19 towns and cities, including Bristol, Brighton, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, Hastings, Coventry and Lancaster.
The action has been organised by the Acorn Community Union (the Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now), which has established itself as a “new spearhead” for tenants’ organisations nationwide.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the government introduced emergency legislation to protect social tenants, private renters and landlords from the worst financial effects of the virus and the lockdown.
Emergency legislation included suspending new evictions from social or private rented accommodation, a ban on repossession proceedings and a three-month mortgage holiday, including buy-to-let mortgages.
However, with lockdown restrictions now being relaxed, and with the government issuing its “back to work” call to the population, it has announced that the protections will end in a month’s time.
Monday’s demonstrations will call for the protections to remain in place for another six months.
Acorn is campaigning under the slogan “Housing is Health” and is calling on the government to also suspend payment of rent, cancel all rent debt, freeze payment of mortgages and interest, and protection against eviction to be extended to lodgers.
Nick Ballard, Acorn head organiser, told the Star: “We’re taking action today to demand that the government act to protect the public and ensure that no-one, be they tenant or mortgage holder, loses their home or is forced into debt because of coronavirus.
“As always, Acorn remains committed to direct action to defend our communities and if the government refuses to do the right thing we will mobilise our membership to take to the streets against landlords and bailiffs who threaten homelessness and profit from the crisis.”
Acorn has developed a nationwide network of 5,000 volunteers who have made thousands of essential deliveries of food and prescriptions to people self-isolating because of the virus.
Sheffield Needs A Payrise organiser Rohan Kon told the Star: “During the coronavirus crisis housing has increasingly become one of the top issues for low-paid workers.
“The looming threat of the government lifting the eviction ban is causing a lot of stress for workers.
“Workers should not be forced to choose between risking their lives at work, through fear of losing pay, to prevent homelessness.
“It’s great to see Acorn doing what they do best - direct action to protect the rights of tenants at risk of homelessness.”
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