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Mortgages and Rents: Government Assistance

Question for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

UIN HL4514, tabled on 29 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional support for those unable to pay their (1) rent, or (2) mortgage, due to COVID-19.

Answered on

13 December 2021

According to the Household Resilience Study (Wave 3, Apr-May 2021), three quarters (76%) of private renters found it easy to afford their rent, and the vast majority (93%) are up to date with their payments. However, we understand that affordability may be an issue for some and that they may require additional support.

The Government has put in place an unprecedented £407 billion financial package to support businesses and families through the pandemic and this includes support for renters to sustain tenancies and to afford their housing costs during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Individuals who are unable to afford their rental payments may be eligible for a range of support through the Universal Credit system. We invested nearly £1 billion in raising Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local rents in April 2020, a change that has benefited 1.5 million households, and maintained them at this increased cash level for 2021/22.

For those who need it most, support is available through Discretionary Housing Payments, as well as £65 million in funding to help renters in arrears, which is in addition to the £310 million already available to councils through the Homelessness Prevention Grant. Vulnerable households are also able to access the £500 million Household Support Fund, of which £421 million will go to help people in England to cover the cost of essentials over the winter.

During the pandemic, the Government worked with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to oversee an unprecedented package of forbearance for homeowners, including the option for mortgage customers to access a mortgage holiday of up to six months as well as a ban on bailiff enforcement of evictions. In total, 2.9 million payment holidays were provided to mortgage borrowers. FCA guidance outlines that firms should continue to provide tailored support for customers experiencing ongoing financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19.

The Government will continue to support mortgage borrowers by offering Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loans to homeowners in receipt of an income-related benefit, and helping people avoid repossession through protection under the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol which makes it clear that repossession must always be the last resort for lenders.