The Government must protect tenants who are at risk of eviction, strengthen our social security system to provide the support renters need, and tackle the growing problem of renter debt.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on household finances. Studies show that almost one in four private renters have seen their earnings fall since the start of the pandemic and half a million private tenants are in rent arrears and at risk of eviction.
With rising unemployment and planned cuts to Universal Credit (UC), I remain concerned that the number of tenants falling behind on their rent is likely to rise. I believe the Government should improve the support available to them.
To safeguard tenants from financial hardship, Ministers should drop their proposals to cut UC, end the five-week wait for housing benefit, and suspend the benefit cap. Local Housing Allowance (LHA) should also be increased to cover average rents throughout the pandemic.
The immediate priority is to make sure that people get the support that they need, to prevent them from losing their homes during this public health emergency. However, longer-term reform is necessary.
Beyond the pandemic, I support calls for UC to be replaced with a new social security system that provides a proper safety net and has dignity and respect at its heart. We also need stronger regulation in the private rented sector as well as more affordable and social housing.
In the meantime, the Government needs to make good on its promise that nobody will lose their home as a result of COVID-19 and strengthen support for renters.
I have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and raised the plight of renters with him. I have posted a copy of this letter below for you to see.
I can assure you that my Opposition colleagues and I will continue to push for the measures mentioned in this letter.