A new £10m grant will be introduced in part of the UK to help private rented tenants struggling to pay rent because of the pandemic.
Wales’s Tenancy Hardship Grant is designed to support people who have fallen behind on their rent by more than eight weeks between March 1 2020 and June 30 2021.
The grant is designed to help people stay in their homes and prevent them losing their tenancies.
The Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change Julie James, who is responsible for housing, says: “Throughout the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented steps to tackle homelessness and support people to remain in their homes.
“The new Tenancy Hardship Grant is the latest in this range of measures and will help people in privately rented homes who have fallen behind on their rent because of the pandemic.
“I understand the stress and worry people will be experiencing if they have fallen behind in their rent. We also know that once someone falls behind with their rent it can be increasingly difficult for them to catch up without support.
“We also know that if they are made homeless, the impact on them and their families is huge – so too is the cost to public services of dealing with homelessness.
“This grant helps to prevent homelessness by helping people address their rent arrears and keep their tenancies.”
People living in private rented accommodation who have developed rent arrears as a direct result of the pandemic may be eligible for the grant. Rent arrears may have been the result of a loss of income due to furlough, a reduction in work or because they were only able to claim Statutory Sick Pay when ill with Covid-19.
The grant, which will be administered by local authorities, will be open to people who are not receiving housing-related benefits. It will replace the Tenancy Saver Loan, which was introduced in December 2020. Anyone who received a loan will have that loan converted to a grant.
People who are eligible can register their interest with their local authority immediately and grants will be processed from mid-July.
Julie James adds: “We have made significant steps to reduce homelessness over the course of the pandemic, supporting more than 10,000 people into accommodation since the beginning of the pandemic.
“To maintain this momentum, we will continue to provide vital funding to local authorities to prevent homelessness and to support people living in temporary accommodation to move into their own permanent and secure homes.
“I urge anyone who is struggling to pay their rent – even if they’re just starting to have difficulties – to contact their landlord or agent and organisations like Citizen’s Advice or Shelter Cymru so they receive the right advice and support.
“Our goal is to prevent homelessness, and ensure where it does occur that it is rare, brief and unrepeated.