Affordable Housing: Coronavirus

Treasury written question – answered on 17th September 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to make housing more affordable for people who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The Government has put in place significant measures to help people with their living costs, including housing, by paying up to 80% of their wages, increasing the amount available to welfare claimants and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile, supporting tenants who may be struggling with their rent. Also, 1.9 million mortgage payment holidays have been granted, equivalent to 1 in every 6 UK mortgages, and the current stay on lender repossessions of homes will be in place to 31 October 2020.

Furthermore, the Government has committed an additional £9.5 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme at the Budget. This takes funding from 21/22 to £12.2 billion. The £12.2 billion will be spent over five years and this will deliver up to 180,000 new affordable homes

We also introduced a stay on possession proceedings for renters in England and Wales to ensure no one needed to be concerned about the threat of eviction over the summer. From 21 September courts will start to hear possession hearings again and these will be subject to new court processes and procedures, developed by the Judiciary, including prioritisation of the most serious cases.

The Government has changed the law to increase notice periods to six months in all but the most egregious cases. This means that renters now served notice can stay in their homes over winter, with more time to find alternative support or accommodation.

We are also taking steps to ensure that no enforcement of evictions will take place in areas where local lockdown measures are in force which restrict access to premises. There will also be a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions, with no evictions permitted in England and Wales in the run up to and over Christmas except in the most serious circumstances, such as cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.

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