Universal credit renters in arrears increased by 70% in six months, charity warns

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New data shows the number of renters on Universal Credit increased by 70 percent in 2021 from six months ago in 2021, prompting renewed calls to restore profit top-ups.

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Despite widespread opposition from anti-poverty campaigners, with Boris Johnson’s decision last week to cut universal debt uplift – pushing up more than £1,000 a year for low-income families.

Senior conservatives, including former cabinet ministers and opposition lawmakers, lobbied the government to keep the payments, which were increased at the start of the Covid pandemic to help struggling families.

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Using government data, Crisis said more than 190,000 low-income renters in England receiving universal loans were at least two or more months behind on rent between April-May 2021 – the latest period covered by the data. .

The homeless charity said it represented a 70 percent increase over the previous figures (114,000) from November-December 2020, warning they were “far worse than we feared”.

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The organization also highlighted fears over rising energy costs, food prices and concerns over inflation, which “will increase the fear that struggling families will be pushed into debt and poverty”.

Crisis’ chief executive, John Sparks, said the new figures “should serve as a wake-up call for the government to act now if we want to pull hundreds of thousands of renters back from the brink of homelessness. “

“The cold reality of universal credit cuts is forcing people to make impossible decisions about whether to turn on the heating, put food on the table for their kids, or pay rent,” he said. .

“How can we raise the standard of the country, when families cannot even afford basic necessities? There’s still time to fix it.

“It is important that the Government use the upcoming expenditure review to reverse this decision and restore the £20 lifeline so that we can prevent struggling families from losing their homes this winter. Anything less than that can be devastating. “

The remarks came as the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) also highlighted data that claimed the proportion of outstanding private renters in England had doubled during the pandemic to around 780,000.

The organization said that between April and May 2021, seven per cent of private renters were in arrears – up from three per cent in 2019/2020 – while an additional nine per cent indicated they expected to be behind with rent payments in the next 12 months. Were. month.

Urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to address the crisis, NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle said: “The landlords are being put in a difficult position. They can either incur rent debt which they cannot afford or want to take back the properties as a last resort.

“Without a targeted package of support to pay off Covid loans, many tenants risk losing their homes unnecessarily. They also face the possibility that their credit scores will deteriorate, making it more difficult to access new housing in the future.”

A government spokesman said: “The actions we have taken since the start of the pandemic have helped keep tenants in their homes – including banning bailiff evictions, extending notice periods and providing an unprecedented package of financial support. I through.

“We have always been clear that Universal Credit’s raise was temporary and designed to help people through the most difficult phases of the pandemic. We continue to help those in most need and we anticipate spending around £30 billion with their housing costs in 2021-21. “

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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