Politics

'A cup of water on a blazing fire': Housing charities pan Sunak's Spring Statement

A leading charity said the statement 'has left struggling renters out in the cold'

budget 2022

Sunak visits a building site in Peterborough. Image: HM Treasury/flickr

Housing charities have panned Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement for the lack of support it offers to renters, people facing homelessness, and those on housing benefit.

Sunak announced £500m in support for struggling families, but experts working with the most vulnerable say the support will do little to combat the cost of living crisis.

Instead, the main measures were to raise the point at which people start paying national insurance, and a cut in the price of petrol.

Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, said: “What’s clear from this statement is that people up and down the country will be pushed into homelessness. It will not give support to families facing the cost-of-living crisis.”

Highlighting the urgency of keeping people in their homes, Downie urged the government to invest in housing benefit.

The call for an increase in housing benefit was echoed by Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter.

“If we’re going to prevent rising homelessness this year, housing benefit has to be fit for purpose,” Neate said.

“Long term, to insulate more people against cost-of-living shocks we need investment in social homes with affordable rents pegged to local incomes.”

Homeowners fitting their houses with solar panels benefitted from Sunak’s mini-budget, as the chancellor announced they would pay no VAT on purchases of these.

But the benefits of that will not be felt by renters, said Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent.

“The VAT cut on energy efficiency measures is welcome but until the government acts on its promises to raise minimum energy efficiency standards for landlords and improve security of tenure, renters won’t feel the benefit,” Kennedy said.

Younger renters also stand to lose out from the budget, with little support for those struggling to get on the housing ladder, argued Anya Martin, director of Priced Out.

“Young people are paying the price for decades of failure to control house price inflation, but none of the support has been targeted to those struggling the most and rents will continue to rise unless the housing shortage is addressed,” Martin told The Big Issue.

“The future looks bleak for those struggling with the cost of housing.”

A 3.1 per cent universal credit rise in April is set to be wiped out by inflation averaging 7.4 per cent across the year. Social housing Kwajo Tweneboa said he was frustrated at the lack of attention paid to this in Sunak’s speech.

“What Rishi Sunak did was throw a cup of water on an already blazing fire,” Tweneboa told The Big Issue. “It disappoints me after a year of exposing the broken housing system. Nothing was contributed towards tackling that and the needs of the less fortunate.”

“It disappoints me that there was no mention in increasing universal credit or beneficial support to the most in need. It infuriates me that more people will be shoved into homelessness. The ordinary person is now paying for the mistakes of the government and the government should be ashamed.”

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