Government pledges £65m to help vulnerable renters in arrears

Homelessness charity says it is ‘impossible for this funding to meet demand’

Zoe Tidman
Saturday 23 October 2021 14:24
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<p>New fund announced to help vulnerable households to pay rent during winter</p>

New fund announced to help vulnerable households to pay rent during winter

The government has announced £65m to support vulnerable renters who have fallen into arrears during the Covid pandemic.

The cash boost will go towards helping low-income households who are behind on their rent.

It will be given to local councils and will be available during winter months, the government said.

The move comes amid increasing energy bills and shortly after a temporary increase in universal credit was removed.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the £65m package “recognises” the impact of the Covid pandemic “on households in the private rented sector with the lowest income”.

But organisations representing landlords and people at risk of homelessness said the money will not be enough to help everyone struggling.

“We of course welcome this funding that should help keep some of those most at risk of homelessness off the streets this winter, “Jon Sparkes from charity Crisis said.

He added: “But with almost a million households across the UK in rent arrears and the cost of living rising rapidly, it is impossible for this funding to meet the demand we face.”

Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “£65m does not fully reflect the scale of the problem.”

His group’s analysis has estimated Covid rent debts were more than £300m, he added.

The government said the latest funding package comes on top of £500m announced in September to help vulnerable households cover bills.

An eviction ban was brought into place during the Covid pandemic, but was removed earlier this year.

Households at risk of eviction or homelessness should contact their local council if they require support with rent, the government said.

Eddie Hughes, the minister for rough sleeping and housing, said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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