Citizens Advice has released a joint statement, along with ten other charities and organisations involved in the housing sector, asking the chancellor to do more to tackle the rent debt crisis and support the estimated half a million private renters who are currently in rent arrears as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.
The statement acknowledges the measures taken to date, which have helped to sustain tenancies in the short term, but suggests the chancellor needs to do much more to adequately protect renters going forward.
In the forthcoming Budget a targeted financial package is needed to help renters pay off arrears built up since lockdown measures started in March last year. This will help to sustain existing tenancies and keep renters in their homes – whilst also ensuring rental debt does not risk them finding homes in the future.
Secondly, we need a welfare system that provides renters with the security of knowing that they can afford their homes. The pandemic has shown how vital this is to providing security at a time of crisis. The Government increased Universal Credit and Housing Benefit because it recognised that the system was not doing enough to support people in the first place, yet it has chosen to freeze Housing Benefit rates again from April and is considering cutting Universal Credit at the same time. It cannot be right that these measures could be pulled away from renters during continued economic uncertainty.