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Tenants Fall Through Covid Support Net

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Portsmouth South Labour MP, Stephen Morgan recently visited PDPLA Vice Chair Alwin Oliver with Portsmouth Councils Labour leader, Councillor George Fielding to discuss the challenges landlords face providing homes for tenants who have suffered financially during the Covid crisis.

As a result, Stephen asked questions of the appropriate government departments and as you can see from the answers received – being an opposition MP must be hugely frustrating and also, unfortunately the Conservative government does not understand the challenges landlords face trying to help tenants to stay in their homes.

MP's get press coverage for their performance in the House of Commons, but most of their work happens behind the scenes - taking on issues which face their constituents and raising them with the appropriate government departments.  One way of doing this is to ask questions, which in the interest of good transparent government, once asked are in the public domain and any one can see the question and the answer given.  This is a good way of getting detail on government policies and also, information on how well those policies are performing.

However, more often than not, as you can see below, stock answers get rolled out without any consideration as to why the question was asked and what could be done to provide a more constructive answer - often treating opposition questions as 'an attack' and responding accordingly.

 Support For Tenants Unable To Pay Rent 

The question Stephen asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, "To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that early intervention support is available for tenants experiencing difficulties in meeting the cost of their rent."

The response from Eddie Hughes, MP on behalf of the government, "The UK Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support during the pandemic, which is available to tenants.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit are in place 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 £180m provided last year.

To help those at risk of homelessness we are 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. Tenants in need of additional support should speak to their local council for more information.

Renters also 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 must be at least 4 months except in the most egregious cases. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating." 

What Proportion Direct Payments?

The question Stephen asked the Department for Work and Pensions, "how many and what proportion of universal credit claimants had a managed payment to landlord arrangement in place in England in (a) January 2020 and (b) June 2021."

The response from Will Quince, MP, on behalf of the Government, "Monthly statistics on the number of Households on Universal Credit, including those that make use of a Managed Payment to Landlord Arrangement, are published, and a breakdown by country to February 2021 can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/(opens in a new tab)

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html"

Support for Tenants with Rent Arrears

The question Stephen asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, "To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if his Department will bring forward policy proposals to support tenants with rent arrears whose income was reduced as a result of the covid-19 outbreak."

And the answer from Eddie Hughes, MP again, "The UK Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support during the pandemic, which is available to tenants.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit are in place 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 also 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 must be at least 4 months except in the most egregious cases. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating."

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Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.

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