Housing minister Eddie Hughes has announced a £65 million rent payment support package for private renters facing eviction or homelessness ‘during the winter months’ and thanked landlords for their help supporting struggling tenants during the pandemic.
Eligible households should contact their local council if they require support, although it is up to individual local authorities to work out the best way to support each household on a case-by-case basis.
Any money is likely to be paid directly to the existing landlord, or a new landlord if the money is being used to support a household to find a new home.
This announcement, which references the long evictions ban during the pandemic, follows months of lobbying by the NRLA and many other organisations to offer struggling tenants direct financial to help pay their rent.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) say this is on top of the £500 million of indirect support for vulnerable families provided during Covid via its Household Support Fund.
The funding will be given to councils in England specifically to support low-income earners in rent arrears and ‘helping to prevent homelessness and support families get back on their feet’.
Housing Hughes (main pic) says: “We have taken action throughout the pandemic to support the most vulnerable families, and it is vital we continue to provide support as we enter the winter months.
“This new funding will support families that are struggling and help to get them back on their feet as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association says: “It is great news that those households worst hit by Covid related arrears may be able to access financial support. However, £65 million does not fully reflect the scale of the problem. NRLA analysis has put the figure of Covid rent debts at over £300 million.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation goes further, saying that: “We estimate that the group this support is targeted at has built up around £440m of rent arrears,” a spokesperson says.
Alicia Kennedy (pictured), Director of Generation Rent, says: “Generation Rent has long warned the government of the devastating effect that rent debt has on people’s lives, so we welcome this new funding and its recognition of how hard private renters have been hit in the past 18 months.
“It’s a significant step forward that will help keep people in their homes when they would otherwise have been evicted.
“But with rents rising and Universal Credit cut, we fear it won’t be enough to prevent families hitting crisis point.”
Shelter boss Polly Neate adds: “With winter approaching, the government is absolutely right to act to keep people safe in their homes and prevent a wave of evictions and homelessness. For those who can access it, this funding will be a lifeline.”
The extra money will be provided as a top-up to the government’s £310 million Homelessness Prevention Grant.