The Budget has received short shrift from landlords and tenants, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak appeared to miss out the private rental sector for financial support.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “The Chancellor’s pledge to do whatever it takes to support those affected by the pandemic will ring hollow for thousands of tenants and landlords across the country.
“The government has admitted that private tenants have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and figures show that most of those in arrears are unable to access emergency housing support from local authorities.
“Despite this the Chancellor has failed to provide the sector with the financial support needed to pay off rent debts built as a consequence of the virus.
“Without help to get arrears cleared, many tenants face the prospect of losing their homes and having damaged credit scores, which will undermine the government’s efforts to help generation rent become generation buy.”
And agents’ trade body ARLA Propertymark is similarly angry.
Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager, says: “Extending the increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance and the furlough scheme until September will help tenants plan ahead but much more is required to avoid a mounting crisis in the private rented sector.
“As the impact of Covid continues to bite and unemployment rates rise, we are increasingly concerned about how tenants will avoid future rent arrears and landlords will remain incentivised to stay in the rental market.
“There is a real need for the government to ensure a wider package of measures to help tenants and landlords keep the rent flowing.”
Industry accreditation body safeagent has been one of many organisations calling for grants to help Covid-related arrears be cleared by tenants.
Its chief executive Isobel Thomson says: “It has been an incredibly tough 12 months for many in the private rented sector, and while it is positive to see additional support such as the extension of furlough and the Universal Credit uplift, this Budget leaves a gaping hole in financial support for the PRS.
“We first raised the proposal of grants for landlords in August 2020 - in line with grants for other self-employed people. It is a real concern that this Budget failed to offer any support for private landlords who are crucial to providing homes in the PRS.
“Over the last year they have been asked to shoulder an unsustainable burden of risk without government help and today’s announcement offered no change to this. The government’s commitment to turn Generation Rent into Generation Buy is laudable in the longer term but what happens in the meantime?”
And Baroness Alicia Kennedy, the director of Generation Rent, is also critical of the Budget - and she doesn’t restrict her comments to the rental sector.
“Rishi Sunak says this Budget protects jobs, but we know that redundancies are already rising at a faster rate than the 2008 financial crisis. Two in five private renters are now relying on benefits and 715,000 households don’t get enough Universal Credit to cover their rent” she claims.
“This Budget has done nothing to help those without jobs protect their homes. The Chancellor ignored the very real rent debt crisis and without government action renters will have no protection from eviction and homelessness. We need a Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear arrears and an extension to the eviction ban as long as restrictions are in place.”
The Baroness continues: “Instead, the Chancellor has announced 95 per cent mortgages, which is completely out of touch when 60 per cent of private renters had no savings at the start of the pandemic and another 18 per cent have had to use savings to pay their rent in the past year.
“The government tried a mortgage guarantee scheme eight years ago and all it did was push up house prices, while another half a million households have got stuck renting over the same period. Stoking demand with more lending and extending the stamp duty holiday will not fix the underlying shortage of homes available to buy.”