We listened in anticipation to hear whether the Chancellor would announce help for renters who’ve been able to pay the rent after a drop in income due to the coronavirus and lockdown.
At the very least we were hoping that the ban on evictions would be extended to the Autumn to give renters a little more time to get back of their feet.
We were disappointed.
The only measure relating to private renting was the announcement that, along with home owners, landlords (not tenants) would be given Vouchers up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the cost of improving the energy efficiency of tenants’ homes. That should be good news for the millions of renters living in cold, damp homes which are too expensive to heat.
But is the £2 billion the chancellor has earmarked for this the best way to address the problem?
Well, in the first place, landlords already have a legal obligation to improve the energy rating of all homes that are energy-rated in the lowest bands – F & G, see our blog on this.
But the real problem is that until the Government brings in its promised legislation to restore security of tenure for renters by abolishing the grossly unjust s.21 (no fault) possession, renters will not enforce their right to live in a warmer home, just as they are often scared to exercise any of their housing rights, for fear of losing their home altogether.
We therefore continue to argue that the Government must bring forward this legislation as a part of all the other Covid related emergency measures. There is All-Party support for it which means that the legislation could be passed within a week if the Government really wants to help private tenants. Since they have remained silent on this, we can only assume that they are listening to the landlord representatives who have urged the Government to kick this election promise into the long grass.
But there was one further announcement, made quietly after the main Statement. Two days after the Covid Budget Statement, the Government announced tax breaks in the form of reduced Stamp Duty in order to help those who can afford to buy second homes and for Buy-to-Let private landlords. Are these really the people who most need help in the Covid emergency?