ALL vulnerable people who have repaid loans during the epidemic have benefited from a $ 65 million donation package this winter, the government has announced.
Councils in England will be able to use the funds to help low-income renters, the Department of Leveling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.
However, organizations representing homeowners and people at risk of homelessness said the money would not be enough to help everyone who was suffering, and called on the Government to move forward.
The money is in addition to the £ 500 million package announced in September to help needy families access food, energy, water and other basic necessities.
This has also been said to be insufficient to address the problem faced by low-income families as living costs rise.
The Ministry of Sleep Disorders and Housing Eddie Hughes said: “We have taken action during the entire epidemic to support high-risk families, and it is important that we continue to provide assistance in the winter months.
“The new funding will help families who are suffering and help them recover as we begin our recovery from the Covid-19 epidemic.”
DLUHC says the Government is “grateful” to the landlords for their support and this money will help many of them to fulfill their existing agreements.
About 3.8 million low-income households are said to be repaying mortgages, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
An estimated 950,000 are thought to be in debt, 1.4 million are behind council councils and 1.4 million are behind electricity and gas, the foundation said.
It looked at households below 40% of their income in the UK, with household income of £ 24,752 or less. This represents about 11.6 million homes.
The findings show that one-third (33%) of low-income households are now repaying debt – three times as much as 11% compared to a pre-epidemic coronavirus study, JRF said.
Jon Sparkes, head of Crisis, said: “We are receiving funding that should help some of those most at risk of homelessness this winter.
“It is now important for councils to use this money to help people who are at risk of losing their homes.
“But with nearly one million households in the UK repaying rent and the cost of living is rising, it is unlikely that this money will meet our expectations.
“In order to prevent homelessness, we need the UK government to ensure that housing benefits pay for real rent by releasing Local Housing Allowance.”
Chris Norris, policy director at the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “We welcome the announcement and urge government officials to look into those who are most affected by Covid’s rent.
“It is good news that the families most affected by Covid’s debt repayment are able to access financial assistance.
“However, £ 65 million does not indicate the magnitude of the problem. The NRLA review has put Covid’s rental debt in excess of £ 300 million.
“With the warnings that rent can put us at risk of financial ruin and the Government acknowledges that many homeowners are at risk of debt repayment, the Chancellor needs to move forward.”
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, stated: “I am pleased to hear that the Government has responded to our request for housing and restitution.
“It is important that they take action to prevent people from becoming homeless this winter.
“The termination of retirement and the lifting of the ban on expulsion have posed a serious threat to families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet due to Covid-19 poverty.
“This is a welcome announcement, but there is still a $ 360 million debt repayment policy in the UK right now, in the meantime we need to take action to stop the escalating rise in homelessness.
“We have seen the wisdom and courage that this government has done in the Every In and the Job Retention Scheme. I hope to see more of this in the next few months.
“While one of our calls to Government has been considered in part here, we are very much in need of seeing funding for work and education in the established industries as a long-term solution.”
Additional PA Media reports
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