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4 May, 2020 Open access

New Economics Foundation calls for UK-wide suspension of rents and mortgage freeze during COVID-19 pandemic

Measures needed to avoid plunging people who were already economically vulnerable before the crisis into deep financial insecurity or hardship

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has called for a UK-wide suspension of rents and a mortgage freeze during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In Suspending rents: how to protect renters from eviction during Covid-19, the NEF highlights that, of the 5.6 million workers at high risk of losing their jobs or hours as a result of social distancing measures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.2 million are living in privately rented accommodation - the most expensive form of housing.

Even with the government's new measures - such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - the NEF points out that many renters will face severe rent arrears and financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, and could risk losing their home.

As a result, the NEF proposes a series of measures that it says would carry only marginal additional cost to the government -

Head of Housing and Land at the NEF Joe Beswick said today - 

'Many of those in the private rented sector, a group who were already economically vulnerable before this crisis, are falling through the cracks of the government’s support systems. With many losing a substantial portion of their income in a world where on average one third of income was already spent on rent, the government must act swiftly to prevent renters from going into deep financial insecurity or hardship caused by housing costs. If we are to avoid an eviction crisis from rent arrears following the public health crisis, we must suspend the obligation to pay rent immediately.'

For more information see 1.2 million private renters at high-risk of job loss and missing out on income support schemes from neweconomics.org