Generation Rent campaign activists say 700,000 private tenants on Universal Credit cannot afford to pay their rent.
The campaign - led by Baroness Alicia Kennedy - says new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show 715,326 households in Great Britain could not cover their rent in full with the Local Housing Allowance they received.
It claims this is a 45 per cent rise since February last year while over the same period the number of private renter households receiving Universal Credit increased 85 per cent.
Generation Rent says 40 per cent of private renters now rely on either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit and according to a statement this means “many invariably live in homes that cost more than the state provides.”
Now the campaign is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take action in next week’s Budget to clear the arrears.
Baroness Kennedy says: “Every one of these households faces an impossible choice every month to pay the rent, borrow, or go without essentials.
“The government’s inadequate support for private renters is pushing families deeper and deeper into debt, with homelessness and destitution awaiting once the crisis of the pandemic clears.
“Next week Rishi Sunak must act decisively to end the rent debt crisis, and bring peace of mind to private renters who have been hit the hardest by the economic shock.”
The Baroness also has a raft of other demands, including wanting the government to create a Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear rent arrears and compensate landlords for 80 per cent of rental income, suspending Section 21 evictions, and boosting in Local Housing Allowance rates “to make sure that tenants on reduced incomes can keep a roof over their heads.”