Thank you for contacting me about supporting renters.
I share your concern about people renting being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. I am relieved that decisive action has been taken to protect people in both the private and social rented sectors, which has provided the security of a home for thousands of households throughout England and Wales.
I am encouraged that evictions will not be enforced until 11th January at the earliest, except in the most egregious cases. On top of this, emergency legislation and the six-month suspension of evictions and court proceedings has helped guard against the effects of coronavirus for renters and landlords during the worst of the crisis. The notice period for evictions has also been extended to six months to provide further certainty for renters over the winter, excepting serious cases such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse. It is good to see that the moratorium on commercial forfeitures for non-payment has been extended to the end of 2020, helping provide certainty for businesses and employees and protect jobs in our communities.
Immediate support through the £500 million Hardship Fund has been provided to economically vulnerable people struggling to pay council tax. A new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme has been introduced to support families, older people and children over the winter. Statutory Sick Pay is also being paid from day one of being sick, rather than day four. An additional £9.3 billion has also been put into the welfare system this year, further protecting those that are struggling. I am glad that efforts across the country have helped save lives and livelihoods, keep businesses running and assist those who are struggling the most. There is also £180 million in funding available this year through Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to support renters with housing costs.
The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate has been increased to the 30th percentile of local market rents for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants and I welcome that this increase will be maintained in cash terms in the next financial year. This means that 30 per cent of properties in each broad rental market area across England, Scotland and Wales are now within the LHA rate. This change will directly benefit over a million households who will see an increase in support of on average £600. Of course, LHA rates need to be properly matched to real rents in each local area, and I will continue to monitor affordability across Teignbridge.
Offering support to landlords during this time is also crucial. Landlords will rightly be concerned about meeting mortgage payments, which could put pressure on their tenants. A mortgage payment holiday extension was provided for buy-to-let landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties.
It is very important that landlords and renters continue to work together to agree on affordable repayment plans, established with an understanding of the renter's circumstance and financial ability, and raise issues at the earliest opportunity to address any concerns.
I have been assured that the Government is prepared to take further measures as needed to protect tenants.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.