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News: Sunak must help tenants in arrears, pleads coalition of rental groups

Fri, 19 Feb 21

A coalition of rental groups with the same view on how to tackle arrears is calling on the Chancellor to help an estimated half a million private renters behind with payments due to Covid-19. 

The call comes in a joint statement issued by The Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Mortgage Works, National Residential Landlords Association, Nationwide Building Society, Propertymark, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter.

The statement says renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since lockdown cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support.

“We welcome many of the measures taken to date, which have helped to sustain tenancies in the short term. But they do not go far enough to adequately protect renters going forward” they say.

And they continue: “The longer the Chancellor waits to take action, the more rent debts will increase, and the greater the risk of homelessness will become. Without additional support, more renters will lose their homes in the coming months, with the risk of an increase in homelessness.”

The coalition puts its demands as: ”First, a targeted financial package to help renters pay off arrears built since lockdown measures started in March last year. This will help to sustain existing tenancies and keep renters in their homes – whilst also ensuring rental debt does not risk them finding homes in the future.

“Secondly, we need a welfare system that provides renters with the security of knowing that they can afford their homes. The pandemic has shown how vital this is to providing security at a time of crisis.”

It says the government increased Universal Credit and Housing Benefit because it recognised that the system was not doing enough to support people in the first place, yet has chosen to freeze Housing Benefit rates again from April and is considering cutting Universal Credit at the same time. 

 

 

“It cannot be right that these measures could be pulled away from renters during continued economic uncertainty” says the groups in an open letter.

They conclude: “We urge the Chancellor to act now to avoid renters being scarred by debts they have no hope of clearing and a wave of people having to leave their homes in the weeks and months to come.”

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