One fifth of renters – 1.7 million renting households – are worried about paying their rent in the next three months while one million fear being evicted, half of which are families with children, according to new research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The social change group reports that despite renters faring significantly worse than homeowners, their support has been cut while wealthier homeowners continue to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.

Its survey of more than 10,000 households (2,689 of whom are renters), reveals clear warning signs that point to a spike in evictions and homelessness as the eviction ban lifts.

Along with the 400,000 already expecting to be evicted, about 450,000 households are currently in rent arrears.

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Signs of recovery

It says that while there are some signs of recovery, with fewer households in arrears compared to October 2020 and a lower estimated total amount of arrears, the figures remain worryingly high.

JRF economist Rachelle Earwaker (pictured) says high levels of arrears are restricting families’ ability to pay the bills and forcing many to rely on hidden borrowing.

rachel earwaker joseph rowntree

She adds: “The cost of boosting support to tackle rent arrears is a fraction of the cost of the stamp duty holiday. If we are to experience an economic recovery which benefits everyone across the country, the government must urgently take action on rent arrears.”

JRF is calling for a targeted package of grants to support renters in arrears, administered through the existing Discretionary Housing Payment system together with improved guidance and ring-fenced funding for arrears.

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