The Prime Minister has stepped into the ongoing row over a Labour claim that last week’s stamp duty holiday was merely a “bung” for landlords and second home owners.
Labour’s housing spokeswoman, Thangam Debbonaire, last week described the stamp duty holiday as a bung and said it did nothing to help tenants, but would help buy to let investors, developers and holiday home buyers.
In recent days Christopher Pincher, the housing minister, has challenged Labour’s leadership to either support the remark or distance itself from it – so far, no formal comment has been made by party leader Sir Kier Starmer.
Now the subject has reached Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons where yesterday Johnson repeatedly criticised the Labour leader for allegedly being inconsistent on whether he supported government policies on Coronavirus and other issues.
In one heated exchange, Johnson claimed Labour had given tacit backing to the stamp duty initiative yet then went on, through Debbonaire’s comments, to criticise it.
Starmer did not respond to Johnson’s call for clarity.
Meanwhile Debbonaire has now linked the eviction ban with this week’s court ruling that housing benefit discrimination by landlords and lettings agents is unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act.
A statement by the shadow minister says: “With increased numbers of people forced into the benefits system because of the economic impact of the Coronavirus crisis and the government’s failure to push forward emergency legislation to help people to keep their homes after the temporary ban on evictions ends in August, there will be many people who will be faced with looking for a new home in the private rented sector this autumn.”
She continues: “With this in mind, this landmark ruling must help to protect those people from discrimination by some rogue landlords refusing to take them on as tenants.
“The government needs to ensure that this finding will be properly enforced as an end to this discrimination and disseminated to all relevant landlords and organisations in order to protect people from losing their home.”
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.