Around 2.5m households across Britain will struggle to pay their rent this winter, while 350,000 are at risk of being evicted.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, around 1.3m households in the private sector and roughly 1.2m households in the social sector are worried about paying their rent in the next three months. This includes four in ten of all families with children, around 600,000 households.
The JRF survey of private and social renters across the UK also found that nearly 700,000 households are in rent arrears. The charity estimates that arrears currently total around £400m in England and Wales.
Cutting back on essentials
Renters on lower incomes are being hit the hardest, as many are using – or have used up – their savings, cut back on essentials and have borrowed money to stay afloat.
Renters who have reduced spending to offset a fall in income since March are primarily cutting back on food (70%), heating and electricity (49%), and for renters with children, food for children and nappies (39%).
The research also found that black and minority ethnic renters are disproportionally worried about their ability to pay their rent over the winter period, 42%, compared to 27% of white renters.
Despite government guidance not to employ the use of bailiffs before 11 January of next year in England, the protection may not be legally binding and is often not well understood by households that are vulnerable to eviction, JRF said.
“The Government acted swiftly during the first wave of the pandemic to ensure no one would be forced from their home but without action which seeks to address growing arrears, any ban on eviction or enforcement only kicks the can down the road, with renters vulnerable to losing their homes again as restrictions are lifted,” Helen Barnard, director at JRF, said this morning.
Barnard calls for a targeted grant programme designed to address rent arrears, along with detailed guidance for councils to help tenants understand their options.