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Question for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

UIN HL2245, tabled on 20 July 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a system of (1) means-tested grants, or (2) interest-free loans, to repay arrears in order to prevent an increase in homelessness.

Answered on

29 July 2021

The UK Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support which is available to tenants.

We have extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit until the end of September helping renters to continue paying their rent. Local housing allowance rates have been maintained at their increased level in cash terms in 2021/22, meaning claimants renting in the private rented sector continue to benefit from the significant increase in the local housing allowance rates applied in April 2020. For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available. For 2021-22 the Government has made £140 million available in DHP funding, building on the £180 million provided last year.

Renters will continue to benefit from longer notice periods, giving them more time to make alternative arrangements. As of 1 June, until at least 30 September, notice periods will be at least 4 months except in the most egregious cases.

We are also providing local authorities with £310 million through the Homelessness Prevention Grant. This funding represents a £47 million increase on the previous year’s funding and can be used to offer financial support for people to find a new home, to work with landlords to prevent evictions, and to ensure families have a roof over their head.

We do not wish to encourage more debt and have prioritised non-repayable support. We believe the best way to support people in need is through the existing welfare system, and this is what our extensive package of economic support is doing.

We continue to monitor the effectiveness of other examples of support, such as those from the devolved administrations in the UK, and note that uptake for loan support has been relatively low in Scotland and Wales.