All 1 Baroness Watkins of Tavistock contributions to the Finance Act 2020

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Fri 17th Jul 2020
Finance Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & Committee negatived & 2nd reading (Hansard) & Committee negatived (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee negatived (Hansard) & Committee negatived (Hansard): House of Lords

Finance Bill Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Finance Bill

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Excerpts
2nd reading & Committee negatived & 3rd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee negatived (Hansard) & Committee negatived (Hansard): House of Lords
Friday 17th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Finance Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 2 July 2020 - (2 Jul 2020)
Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Portrait Baroness Watkins of Tavistock (CB)
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My Lords, I draw attention to my interests as outlined in the register. I support the contents of the stamp duty land tax Bill that are designed to enable people to feel confident to buy, sell, move and improve housing stock. The changes should assist not only first-time buyers but older people who may choose to move and release equity in their homes.

The Finance Bill is designed to protect jobs, yet no mention is made of people’s need to maintain the right to stay in the homes they currently live in. Many people expect to lose their jobs in the next few months, the prospect of which will create fear and anxiety—doubly so if they also lose their homes. We are seeing the toll coronavirus has put on the nation’s mental health. Many people have benefited from mortgage holidays and the temporary cessation of evictions. As these constructive government interventions come to an end, what is to happen to people heavily in rent arrears and mortgage debt ? What of private renters whose landlords decide to sell their housing stock quickly because of the stamp duty holiday? Are they to be evicted?

The Government are committed to protecting children’s rights and acknowledge that these need to be at the centre of any coronavirus recovery plan. The Chancellor has said that we need

“a patience to live with the uncertainty of the moment”.—[Official Report, Commons, 8/7/20; col. 978.]

I agree, but families should not have to fear eviction and either become homeless or be placed in bed and breakfast if they currently live in suitable housing. The Ride Out Recession Alliance, which is being put together by, among others, my noble friend Lord Bird, who knows a thing or two about homelessness, is calling for there to be no evictions for up to two years, to be achieved by paying or guaranteeing people’s rent or mortgages. It is argued that this will be cost effective on society in the long term.

The Affordable Housing Commission, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Best, has called for social landlords to be supported to buy homes from “overstretched landlords”. I go further and suggest that this could include peoples own homes and repurchasing elements of shared ownership homes where arrears may otherwise lead to repossession and associated homelessness. People could then remain in their current homes, paying a fair rent.

As well as good and secure work, people need good and secure homes. The Government’s intervention to find accommodation for homeless people at the start of lockdown was truly fantastic. Can the Minister confirm that Her Majesty’s Government will give serious consideration to intervening in a similarly swift and humanistic manner to enable most families to stay in their current homes and to prevent an increase in homelessness and associated poor mental health, particularly for children, as a result of coronavirus? We need a comprehensive financial plan for homes to follow the excellent plan for the protection and future of jobs, particularly Kickstart.