Third of renters on furlough worried they won't be able to pay rent when lockdown ends

MORE than a third of private renters who’ve been furloughed are worried they won’t be able to pay their rent when the coronavirus lockdown ends.

Alarming new research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlights how at least 250,000 people could struggle to meet their housing costs.

The independent social change organisation says their research is based on the proportion of people who are private renting according to Office for National Statistics data.

In reality, a staggering eight million people have been furloughed by their employer – this figure would include renters, households with a mortgage and those in social housing.

The government's coronavirus job retention scheme covers 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed workers, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The furlough scheme will finish at the end of October but the government will start to wean off its support from August.

What is furlough?

THE aim of the government’s job retention scheme is to save one million workers from becoming unemployed due to the lockdown.

Under the scheme, the government will pay 80 per cent – up to £2,500 a month – of wages of an employee who can’t work because of the impact of coronavirus.

Workers will be kept on the payroll rather than being laid off.

The government will pay the associated employer national insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on top.

The scheme has been extended to run until the end of September (although businesses will be asked to chip in from August) and can be backdated to March 1 2020.

It’s available to all employees that started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before March 1, 2020.

If you’re between jobs, have started at a new place of work or were made redundant after this date then you can ask your former employer to rehire you to be eligible for the scheme.

Employers can choose to top up furloughed workers’ salaries by the remaining 20 per cent but they don’t have to.

Firms who want to access the scheme will need to speak to their employees before putting them on furlough.

While on furlough, staff should not undertake any work for their employer during the scheme.

It was originally due to end in July, but the Chancellor extended this deadline last month. 

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said they focused their research on people who were concerned about being laid off during lockdown.

They asked furloughed private renters if they were worried about paying rent at the moment, and if they were worried about paying their rent when lockdown ends.

Darren Baxter, policy and partnerships manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “Renters are really worried about not being able to pay the rent, both right now and in the future when the lockdown ends, particularly those who’ve been furloughed. 

“The furlough scheme has been a lifeline during the pandemic, but it will not save every job, and many private renters who are let go by their employer will need to turn to the social security system for help with housing costs.”

The research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is based on a sample of 1,031 private renters in a YouGov survey of 6,430 UK adults.

What to do if you can't pay your rent

For private renters, speak to your landlord as soon as you can.

They may be able to defer your payment, or to allow you to pay a smaller amount – but they don't have to do this.

Social renters should speak to their housing association.

Currently, renters are safe from being evicted after Boris Johnson banned landlords from booting out their tenants for three months.

This measure started on March 27 and is due to last for 90 days, which means it will finish around mid-June.

Once this ends, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan.

What help is available for renters?

If you're out of work, or on low income, you may be entitled to claim benefits.

Check the gov.uk benefits calculator for more information.

What you're entitled to will depend on your income and personal circumstances.

You can also get free advice from housing charities, such as Shelter, or you can speak to Citizens Advice.

The government has also recently increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, putting an end to a five-year benefit freeze.

LHA rates are used to work out how much Universal Credit or housing benefit you get if you rent from a private landlord.  

The amount you'll get varies depending on where you live.

Source: Read Full Article