Submission: Treasury Committee inquiry into government's coronavirus financial package

By: Reshima Sharma  Published: March 2020


Summary

  • This evidence was submitted by Shelter in response to the Treasury Committee's call for evidence on the government's coronavirus financial package
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated in the UK, Shelter’s telephone and web advisers are being contacted every day by terrified renters who have already been affected by the economic fallout of this developing public health crisis.
  • This pandemic is unprecedented and the economic aftershock will have a far-reaching impact across society.
  • As it stands, local authority ‘housing options’ teams have been struggling to provide meaningful help to prevent people from losing their homes or find a suitable alternative.
  • The housing benefit and social security safety net is not fit for purpose, let alone with an influx of thousands of new claims.

Recommendations:

  • The housing benefit safety net will need to support a much larger number of households than in normal circumstances, and it is vital that it is properly funded in order to help people access safe accommodation and avoid rent arrears.
  • The LHA rates must be lifted, as an emergency measure, to cover average rents (the 50th percentile) across every local market to ensure people can access safe accommodation and cover their rents for this period.
  • The five-week wait within the Universal Credit system should be removed by ensuring the advance payment is provided as a grant rather than a loan.
  • The government must urgently provide funding and support to protect homeless families living in one-room temporary accommodation, and it must ensure all homeless individuals and families, including those not usually eligible for homelessness assistance and/or recourse to public funds, are protected.

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