By GMHA (@gmhousingaction)
Today the government announced emergency relief measures in light of the COVID-19 economic crisis. As well as support to businesses, the Chancellor announced a three-month mortgage holiday. This is totally inadequate.
Across the country over 4.5 million households are in the private rented sector, most on precarious short-term contracts. There is no mention of them in these announcements.
The government must extend their support to renters; and introduce:
- A mandatory suspension of rent for those in private rented housing.
- A ban on evictions from the private rented sector.
Additionally, the government must implement measures to support people out of work, including:
- Increase of statutory sick pay (SSP) to 80% of earnings, available immediately.
- Suspension of all utility payments; gas, water, electricity, internet.
- Emergency financial support for individuals and families facing a loss of income, along the lines of that being proposed in the US.
The current proposals amount to a double subsidy of landlords — subsiding the purchase of their asset through mortgage relief; subsidising their renting out of their asset, through the funnelling of SSP and other benefits directly from the public purse to landlords’ pockets. It is right that SSP and Universal Credit are increased — but entirely wrong this happens in a context where rent is not suspended.
Countries across Europe are outlining clear, direct and immediate support for workers. The government urgently needs to get a handle on this and provide emergency relief measures for the millions now facing the threat of extreme hardship.
A bail out for renters and workers is needed — not just banks and business.
17 March 2020