150,000 renters at risk of being evicted
Renters need of urgent help to prevent a crisis of widespread housing insecurity, homelessness, and long-term problem debt, said StepChange.
The charity warned that 150,000 private renters are at risk of eviction when restrictions are lifted because of huge Covid-related rent debts.
Stepchange is now calling for a package of emergency financial support from government to help renters keep their homes while their finances recover.
It found that half of private renters (3.7 million people) have experienced a drop in income since March 2020, while 460,000 have fallen behind on their rent since the start of the pandemic.
More than 19 million people (38% of British adults) having faced a loss of income in this period. The number of people in severe problem debt stands at 1.8 million, up from 1.4 million in September.
But the research reveals that renters have been particularly hard hit.
Since March 2020, one in five private renters (1.5m people) have had to go without meals or suitable clothes, while three in 10(2m people) say money worries have contributed to anxiety, depression or other mental health problems.
Almost a million private renters (12%) say money worries have damaged their ability to find work or complete education since March. All three outcomes are more prevalent among private renters than the general public.
StepChange CEO Phil Andrew said: “The pandemic has taken an enormous financial toll on many households, but renters have been particularly badly hit: they are more likely to work in sectors affected by Covid, more likely to have lost income and more likely to have suffered mental ill-health.
“At the outset of the pandemic the Housing Secretary stated that no-one should lose their home because of the pandemic, but a year on this is a very real prospect for hundreds of thousands of people.
“The Government’s continued suspension of rental evictions until the end of May is a positive step, but this alone will only serve as a stay of execution for those with unmanageable rent arrears.”