Nationwide Foundation: ‘Everyone deserves a decent home they can afford’

Bridget Young, programme manager at the Nationwide Foundation, explains why the organisation is committed to decent homes for all

The Nationwide Foundation is an independent charity that believes everyone in the UK deserves to have access to a decent home that they can afford. Its Decent Affordable Homes strategy influences systemic changes to the housing system by supporting, testing and evidencing solutions.

We are delighted to support the Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance as it looks to develop and implement practical steps and solutions to prevent tenants losing their homes, and help people remain in employment. We look forward to working collaboratively with a broad group of alliance stakeholders to identify the interventions that are needed, particularly on how to protect private rented sector tenants as the end of the eviction ban approaches and they feel the impact of growing housing debt.

Last month, the Nationwide Foundation co-ordinated a letter from a group of funders to the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to propose further support for renters and people experiencing homelessness. The letter was signed by 12 charitable funders that have provided over £110m funding into housing and homelessness in the UK over the last three years. The letter acknowledged the work done by government so far to protect renters and people facing homelessness, but called for government to:

  • Grant the courts discretion to prevent evictions because of rent arrears accrued as a result of the pandemic
  • Bring forward Renters’ Reform legislation so that no-fault evictions under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 are abolished as soon as possible
  • Make changes to the benefit cap regime so that tenants in high-rent areas, who may now need government assistance for the first time, can benefit from that support
  • Implement a temporary moratorium on rent increases in the private rented sector, so that tenants hit financially by Covid-19 are not also impacted by rising housing costs
  • Increase Local Housing Allowance to the 50th percentile for at least 12 months so that renters who need it are supported to continue to pay their rent
  • End the five-week wait for Universal Credit
  • Implement a 12-month suspension of ‘no recourse to public funds’ restrictions to enable financial support for those who would otherwise return to rough sleeping
  • Reinstate the duty court solicitor for housing, benefits and debt cases, as well as funding courts, local Citizens Advice bureaux and community law centres to support the digitally excluded

We know that since the letter was issued, government has confirmed that the eviction ban will not be further extended beyond August 23, but that ministers are working with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on ways that the courts will be able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties. We remain concerned that too many people are struggling to pay their rent, are building up housing debt that they will struggle to repay and will face evictions at a time when we are still experiencing a national health crisis.

The Ride Out Recession Alliance is a desire to change thinking in order to better the lives of many and prevent a pandemic-driven wave of homelessness. We want to keep people in their homes by extending the moratorium on evictions for families financially hammered by Covid-19, and to keep people in employment through job creation schemes.

At launch we said we will be the platform and lead facilitator. We need the ideas and the energy of many, many people and organisations, and are delighted some fantastic organisations like Nationwide Foundation are on board.