Housing

Renters 'forgotten' in Budget as campaigners warn of homelessness spike

Sunak announced no new measures to help renters clear Covid-19 debts at the Budget despite unveiling a stamp duty holiday extension and five per cent mortgages to boost home owners

Rishi Sunak unveiled his Budget announcement with no support for renters

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves 11 Downing Street to announce his Budget. Image credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

Renters are facing homelessness in “a matter of weeks”, campaigners have warned, after Rishi Sunak’s Budget failed to answer calls for tenants to be given cash to clear their arrears and stave off eviction.

The Chancellor spoke of turning “generation rent into generation buy” as he announced five per cent mortgages and a stamp duty holiday extension at the Budget.

But there was no mention of any support for renters with 840,000 now in arrears due to the pandemic, according to a National Residential Landlords Association survey.

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Campaigners had urged the Chancellor to provide renters with cash to clear rent debts, warning that mounting arrears could lead to a surge in evictions and drive homelessness.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It is very disappointing to see the housing support announced today is limited to home buyers. Hundreds of thousands of renters in arrears are facing eviction in a matter of weeks and must not be forgotten. We also desperately need more social housing, while a lack of further investment in housing benefit will push more people into poverty and put them at risk of homelessness.

“Last year the UK government’s bold emergency action showed homelessness is not inevitable, but that progress is at risk of being undone if further action is not taken now.”

Bailiff-enforced evictions are currently banned in England until March 31 after Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced an extension from February 21 last month.

But that does not prevent eviction court hearings from taking place with the most egregious anti-social behaviour cases receiving priority while landlords can still issue eviction orders with a six-month notice period.

This is in contrast to the total eviction ban in place between March and September 2020.

With tenants accumulating arrears that leave them still vulnerable to facing court action, campaigners have accused the Chancellor of “abandoning renters”.

By contrast, Sunak announced a new mortgage guarantee scheme that will enable homebuyers to secure a mortgage up to £600,000 with a five per cent deposit, and an extension to the temporary cut in stamp duty up until September.

A spokesperson for the ACORN union told The Big Issue: “It is a disgrace that the Budget has set out no support for renters.

“Without action from the government it will be impossible for so many to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Covid, and will lead to a wave of evictions that will no doubt spike homelessness levels.

“The government has abandoned tenants since the start of this crisis and the Budget continues in this spirit but they need to get real – the rent debt crisis isn’t going to go away if they pretend it isn’t there, and renters have been organising and are now a political force to be reckoned with – we won’t let this slide.”

The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance “urged the Chancellor to help avoid renters being scarred by debts they have no hope of clearing” on February 18 in a joint-statement alongside Crisis, Shelter, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the National Residential Landlords Association.

Ahead of the Budget this week, Generation Rent (GR) made similar calls in an open letter to the Chancellor asking the Westminster Government to “resolve debt rent debt in a way that shares costs fairly between landlords and taxpayers”.

The letter, which was signed by tenants group London Renter’s Union, think tank New Economics Foundation and more, also asked for a full eviction ban to return in England as well as a Renters Reform Bill to evictions where landlords do not have to give a reason.

In response to the Sunak’s announcement, Alicia Kennedy, GR director, said: “Today the Chancellor ignored the very real rent debt crisis and without government action renters will have no protection from eviction and homelessness. ”

Shelter’s Polly Neate described the Budget announcements as delivering “no hope of turning generation rent into generation buy’”.

Helen Barnard, Joseph Rowtree Foundation director, added: “With billions going into propping up already high house prices through the stamp duty holiday and the mortgage guarantee scheme, it’s galling to see the government choose to ignore millions of renters who are already worried about mounting arrears.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'
Homelessness

Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know