Chancellor Must Use Budget to Tackle Rent Debt Crisis, Say Housing Groups


February 2021

Chancellor Must Use Budget to Tackle Rent Debt Crisis, Say Housing Groups

Housing groups and charities representing both renters and landlords have called on the chancellor to use the forthcoming budget to tackle the rent debt crisis.

A joint statement has been issued by organisations that include Shelter, Nationwide Building Society, Citizens Advice, Big Issue, Crisis, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

In the statement, Rishi Sunak has been urged to take action to prevent 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”.

The statement claimed that the number of renters in arrears due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis numbers at least 500,000.

“The UK government’s own research shows that ‘private renters report being hardest hit by the pandemic’. Renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since lockdown cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support,” the statement said.

The organisations have welcomed many of the actions taken by the government to date in order to help sustain tenancies in the short term, however they “do not go far enough to adequately protect renters going forward”.

“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 groups are calling for a tailor-made financial solution that will help renters pay off the arrears they have racked up since the start of the lockdowns back in March 2020.

This will help keep renters in their homes by sustaining tenancies, and also ensure that they won’t risk their ability to find homes in the future due to rental debt.

The statement also calls for a welfare system that gives renters “the security of knowing that they can afford their homes”.

A spokesperson for the government said: “We’ve put households at the heart of our decision-making throughout the pandemic, with a £280bn package keeping millions in work, temporarily bolstering the welfare safety net by more than £1,000 a year for families, and backing businesses with loans and grants.

“We’re supporting renters by extending notice periods and banning bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases. Councils can also provide additional help through the £180m discretionary housing scheme.”