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30 July, 2020 Open access

Shelter calls on government to accelerate social homes building programme in wake of COVID crisis, as stamp duty cut is not a solution for most private renting families

Housing charity also highlights survey results showing that nearly one in five private renting parents have increased fears of homelessness as a result of the pandemic

Shelter has called on the government to accelerate its social homes building programme in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, saying the cut in stamp duty recently announced by the Chancellor is not a solution for most private renting families.

New polling carried out by YouGov for Shelter has revealed that parents living in privately rented homes are almost twice as likely to be worried about homelessness than parents living in secure social homes (17 per cent, equivalent to 458,000 adults, and 9 per cent respectively).

Highlighting that this increased fear of homelessness is not unfounded - with 49,000 (2 per cent) resorting to food banks since lockdown, 429,000 (15 per cent) cutting back on food to help pay their rent since lockdown, and 550,000 (20 per cent) taking on debt to help pay their rent - Shelter calls on the government to -

‘… give these hard-pressed families a way out of private renting, and the chance of a stable social home they can afford. So far, the government has only offered a stamp duty cut, which will be of no help to most renters who are ruled out of homeownership due to a lack of savings. The government’s own figures show that 73 per cent of private renting families have no savings at all.’

Commenting on the actions that can be taken to support private renting families, Shelter's chief executive Polly Neate said today -

‘Families are going hungry and taking on risky debt to pay private rent, and yet for too many even these sacrifices won’t be enough to avoid homelessness. These parents need a way out of living hand to mouth, but so far, the government has offered them no alternative to private renting. This must change if we are ever going to build this country back better.

As rescue and recovery packages roll in, the government needs to prioritise building safe homes that everyone can afford. Cuts to stamp duty are not a solution when you’re struggling to keep a roof over your head, and terrified of becoming homeless at the hands of this crisis. Many renting families will feel like they’ve been sold down the river without a paddle.

But not all hope is lost. There is still time to build a better future that benefits everyone and not just a lucky few. The government can step in and show it cares about these families, by building social homes. Not in five or ten-years’ time, but now. By accelerating spending on social housebuilding, it can rapidly deliver the safe homes so many families are crying out for.’

For more information, see Over 450,000 private renting parents fear ‘COVID-homelessness’ from shelter.org.uk