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To: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak
We need a COVID Rent debt fund
Create a £288m Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear rent arrears that have built up during the pandemic.
Why is this important?
Right now, an estimated 353,000 private renters are in arrears. Rent arrears have doubled since the beginning of Covid, and time is running out for the Government to prevent a homelessness crisis.
Private renters are struggling because of the pandemic, and the Government has not offered enough enough support for those who have lost income.
We need a Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear arrears, so that they cover average rents. Otherwise, thousands of renters will be extremely vulnerable to losing their homes, relying on their local councils to be rehoused, and risking homelessness, in just a couple of weeks’ time.
Why we need a covid rent debt fund now. On 1 June the ban on bailiff evictions, which have been in place during the lockdowns, will be lifted.
The courts have been processing evictions since September, which means that thousands of tenants will start being made homeless by mid-June.
60% of private renters had no savings at the start of the pandemic and a further 18% have had to use savings to pay their rent in the past year.
How can these families and households afford to pay the rent, when they have experienced drops in their incomes, redundancies or a loss of business? The simple answer for many is they cannot.
To make matters even worse, for the record number of people who now rely on Universal Credit because of the pandemic, many are now finding that benefits are not enough to cover the rent.
People like Gareth from Worcestershire have had no choice but to fall into debt. He contacted us in April to tell us his story. “Since April 2020 my contracting business hit a full stop and I have been without income since that time… After 8 months I explained the situation to my rental agent who offered a slightly reduced monthly payment but still to be owed. So no benefit, just additional debt.”
Renters are one of the most economically vulnerable groups in the country, and yet the Government still has not offered them more support. We need COVID rent debt fund.