Thank you to everyone who has contaced me about the impact of coronavirus on renters. I agree with you that the Government must protect tenants who are at risk of eviction and strengthen our social security system to provide the support renters need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on household finances. Studies show one in four private renters have seen their earnings fall since the start of the pandemic and more than two million private tenants are concerned about being made homeless.
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, strengthen the ban on evictions and deal with growing rent arrears.
Following pressure from the Opposition and housing charities, I welcome that Ministers have maintained Universal Credit (UC) at current levels until the end of September. Yet I believe the Government should go further and reverse its decision to cut UC by £20 a week at the end of September. This would cost six million families an estimated £1,000 a year.
More widely, I support calls for Ministers to end the five-week wait for housing benefit, suspend the benefit cap, and increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to cover average rents throughout the pandemic.
The immediate priority is to make sure that people get the support they need to prevent them losing their homes during this public health emergency. However, longer term reform is necessary. Beyond the pandemic, I believe UC should 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 should make good on its promise that nobody will lose their home as a result of COVID-19 and strengthen support for renters.