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Jobs and Homes is a memoir of representing workers and tenants day after day – physically in court, and in online hearings – during the pandemic. It tells the stories of the real people behind the cases.
Through the pages of the book, you will meet the landlords, the bosses, the tenants and the workers. Workers who want the court to recognise the injustice they have suffered but find the law struggles to satisfy this demand. Tenants who are minutes away from losing their home and facing absolute poverty, street homelessness or worse.
David Renton is a legal aid lawyer who fights hard for his clients, because it is not a fair fight, and legal aid is a lifeline for the most vulnerable in society. He knows many, especially the sick or the old, won’t find themselves a new job or a new home and their lives will spiral into greater pain and suffering.
Under the impact of COVID-19, our legal system was brought to the verge of collapse. The law proved almost incapable of dealing with human need on a new scale. And, whether by inertia or intent, the government opted for a series of emergency breaks to defer the crisis rather than address the huge, underlying problems of tenant debt and the insecurity of workers’ zero-hour contracts.
Though, something did change during the pandemic. Suddenly half the British population was living on state benefits of one sort or another: mortgage holidays, a furlough scheme that provided for everyone from the night-time cleaner to the company director. People with steady incomes started to see that there really was not much at all that separated their lives from those David Renton represents in court.
In Jobs and Homes David Renton skilfully describes the historical and political context to that lead us to this point and how employment and housing law worked before and during a period of lockdowns. Looking to the future, maybe the solution really is as simple as making it harder to dismiss, and to evict, so that people can enjoy more security in their jobs and in their homes.
David Renton’s compelling story-telling will leave the reader in no doubt that on a turn of luck we all could find ourselves in this situation and we would be desperately hoping to find a functioning legal aid system to support us.