Extension to eviction ban must go further to help 'forgotten renters'

By agency reporter
August 24, 2020

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is calling on the UK government to go beyond its short term extension of the evictions ban and extend the moratorium on evictions for renters in England for at least another six months to prevent a "surge in homelessness".

The UK's leading progressive think tank urges ministers to think again to help support the 'forgotten renters' who have run up debt and fallen into arrears as a result of furlough, shielding or job losses.

Those living in the private rented sector are more likely than those living in other household tenures to have been adversely affected by COVID-19, with 36 per cent of private sector renters seeing their income fall by 20 per cent or more, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The housing charity Shelter suggests that 227,000 private renters will be at risk of eviction when the ban is lifted.

Polling conducted for IPPR by Savanta ComRes earlier this year revealed that since the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • At least seven per cent of renters have fallen behind on their rent since the onset of COVID-19.
  • Two in five renters (39 per cent) have worried that they will not be able to afford their rent in the future.
  • A worrying 19 per cent of renters said they have had to cut back spending on essentials in order to pay their rent, and 15 per cent said they had run out of money a week or more before the end of the month.

IPPR is calling on the government to:

  • Extend the ban on evictions for another six months.
  • Provide more financial help for those in the private rented sector, by increasing the local housing allowance to cover 50 per cent of market rates. At the current 30 per cent of the market rate there are too few properties for people to move into if they experience a drop in income.

Commenting when the extension was announced, Luke Murphy, IPPR Associate Director, said: “Today’s announcement provides renters with some breathing space. However, we know they are more likely to have been adversely affected by COVID-19. Even now, the government is withdrawing measures of support for private renters sooner than they are for landlords, who can obtain a mortgage holiday until the end of October.

"Ministers must step-in and extend the ban on evictions for another six months if they are to prevent a potential surge in homelessness.”

Jonathan Webb, IPPR Research Fellow, said: “Today’s U-turn reflects a lack of long-term planning from the government. Evidence has been mounting since the beginning of March that the pandemic has hit private renters hard. A one-month extension on the eviction ban is another short-term fix that doesn’t provide renters with the long-term security they need.

“Over the coming weeks, a proper plan needs to be put in place that both protects renters from eviction and helps them with their housing costs. Raising Local Housing Allowance to cover average market rents represents the best way to provide support, reduce long-term financial hardship and ultimately the risk of eviction for renters.”

* Read Renting beyond their means? The role of living rent in addressing housing affordability here

* Institute for Public Policy Research https://www.ippr.org/

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