A lettings sector trade body, acting with homelessness charities, is urging the government to do more as young people in rented housing become more vulnerable as the furlough scheme winds down.
The National Residential Landlords Association, which commissioned a poll on the subject, says 24 per cent of private renters aged 16 to 24 are reliant on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which operates the furlough arrangements.
And 27 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 rely on it.
This compares with around 17 per cent of all those aged 19 to 39 according to the Resolution Foundation.
From next month the scheme will begin to require employers to pay National Insurance and pension contributions whilst the Government’s subsidy, currently 80 per cent of wages, will then fall to 70 per cent in September and 60 per cent in October.
Now the NRLA together with the homeless charities Crisis and Centrepoint are calling on the government to boost the safety net available to young renters in three ways:
- following the decision to increase the Local Housing Allowance to cover the bottom 30 per cent of rents in any given area, ministers should go further by suspending the benefit cap;
- advance loans provided to Universal Credit claimants to cover the five week waiting period to receive the first payment of the Credit should be converted to grants, this “ending the debt that is baked into the system”;
- changes should also be made to the Shared Accommodation Rate which limits the amount that those under the age of 35 can access in housing support to the cost of renting a room in a shared house. This should include immediately bringing forward plans announced in the Budget earlier this year to extend exemptions from the SAR to include rough sleepers aged 16 to 24, care leavers up to the age of 25, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.
“Young renters have borne the brunt of the COVID crisis. Many have relied on the furlough scheme to enable them to pay their rent. As this support reduces there is a serious danger that they will struggle to meet their payments” according to Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive.
“The vast majority of landlords approached for help by their tenants have responded positively and that will continue to be the case as they do all they can to sustain tenancies.
“But both tenants and landlords need the security of knowing rents can continue to be paid, just as with mortgages and rents for social housing. Plans need to be made to ensure that there will be adequate support in place to enable all tenants to continue to afford their housing costs.”