England – £65m pledged to help vulnerable renters in arrears

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Vulnerable renters who have fallen into arrears during the pandemic will be helped with a £65 million support package this winter, the Government has announced.

Councils in England will be able to use the funding to support low-income earners who are behind on their rent, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.

However, organisations representing landlords and people at risk of homelessness said the money will not be enough to help everyone struggling, and called for the Government to go further.

The funding is in addition to a £500 million package announced in September to help families struggling to afford food, energy, water and other essentials.

This, too, was described as insufficient to meet the scale of the challenge facing low-income families as living costs rise.

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes said: “We have taken action throughout the pandemic to support the most vulnerable families, and it is vital we continue to provide support as we enter the winter months.

“This new funding will support families that are struggling and help to get them back on their feet as we begin to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

DLUHC said the Government is “grateful” to landlords for their support and the funding will help more of them reach agreements with existing tenants.

Some 3.8 million households on low incomes are estimated to be in arrears with household bills, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

Around 950,000 are thought to be in rent arrears, 1.4 million are behind on council tax bills and 1.4 million are behind on electricity and gas bills, the foundation said.

It looked at households in the bottom 40% of incomes in the UK, with a household income of £24,752 or less. This represents around 11.6 million households.

The findings suggest that a third (33%) of low-income households are now in arrears – triple the 11% estimated by a similar study before the coronavirus pandemic, the JRF said.

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