The BMA has warned of a surge in Covid infections unless the eviction ban is extended past next Sunday.
The doctors’ union is also calling for legislation to place a 12-month duty on local authorities to enable everyone who sleeps rough, who is homeless and cannot self-isolate to have access to safe accommodation.
It says the Government should also pay more attention to the hidden homeless, who ‘sofa surf’ in shared accommodation and urgently need more support.
Rates of homelessness are expected to increase as the temporary halt on evictions ends, according to the union, which cites Shelter’s estimate of 227,000 private renters at risk of losing their homes when the ban is lifted – although the NRLA says that less than 2% of tenants have been served with a possession notice.
Added to this, it points to the number of job losses and domestic violence continuing to rise as a result of the pandemic, which is forcing people out of their homes and potentially making them homeless.
The BMA says that unless the Government continues to fund the placement of homeless people into suitable and safe accommodation, there could be large outbreaks among this population. People who are homeless are three times more likely to be chronically ill with lung and breathing problems – a serious risk factor in the development of the virus, according to the union.
Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, says the Government could be putting thousands of people’s lives at risk by not extending the eviction ban and having future provisions in place. “We need preventative measures to be put in place to help reduce the number of people at risk of losing their homes,” she says.
“This is particularly important as we head deeper into a recession and near the end of the eviction ban.”