New £10m grant scheme to help people struggling to pay their rent during the pandemic
A new £10m grant will be introduced this month to help people in private rented accommodation who are struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic.
The Tenancy Hardship Grant is designed to support people who have fallen behind on their rent by more than eight weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021.
The grant is designed to help people stay in their homes and prevent them losing their tenancies.
Minister for Climate Change Julie James, who is responsible for housing, said: “Throughout the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented steps to tackle homelessness and support people to remain in their homes.
“The new Tenancy Hardship Grant is the latest in this range of measures and will help people in privately rented homes who have fallen behind on their rent because of the pandemic.
“I understand the stress and worry people will be experiencing if they have fallen behind in their rent. We also know that once someone falls behind with their rent it can be increasingly difficult for them to catch up without support.
“We also know that if they are made homeless, the impact on them and their families is huge – so too is the cost to public services of dealing with homelessness.
“This grant helps to prevent homelessness by helping people address their rent arrears and keep their tenancies.”
People living in private rented accommodation who have developed rent arrears as a direct result of the pandemic may be eligible for the grant. Rent arrears may have been the result of a loss of income due to furlough, a reduction in work or because they were only able to claim Statutory Sick Pay when ill with Covid-19.
The grant, which will be administered by local authorities, will be open to people who are not receiving housing-related benefits. It will replace the Tenancy Saver Loan, which was introduced in October 2020. Anyone who received a loan will have that loan converted to a grant.
People who are eligible can register their interest with their local authority immediately and grants will be processed from mid-July.
Julie James added: “We have made significant steps to reduce homelessness over the course of the pandemic, supporting more than 10,000 people into accommodation since the beginning of the pandemic.
“To maintain this momentum, we will continue to provide vital funding to local authorities to prevent homelessness and to support people living in temporary accommodation to move into their own permanent and secure homes.
“I urge anyone who is struggling to pay their rent – even if they’re just starting to have difficulties – to contact their landlord or agent and organisations like Citizen’s Advice or Shelter Cymru so they receive the right advice and support.
“Our goal is to prevent homelessness, and ensure where it does occur that it is rare, brief and unrepeated.”
Notes to editors
The Welsh Government has provided a range of measures during the pandemic to support tenants:
- The Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (No 2) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 have been in place between December 2020 and June 2021. They will end on June 30, 2021. They have prevented, except in some specific circumstances, people being evicted from their homes by stopping a writ or warrant of possession being executed.
- Legal measures under the Coronavirus Act have been extended to the end of September – these delay when a landlord can seek court action to evict a tenant by temporarily increasing the period of notice that must be given before a possession claim is made to the court. Six months’ notice is now required for notices served in respect of all protected tenancies; statutory tenancies; secure tenancies; assured tenancies; assured shorthold tenancies; introductory tenancies; and demoted tenancies, except where those notices relate to anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
- The Welsh Government has provided £4.1m to top up Department for Work and Pensions funding for Discretionary Housing Payments to help those in receipt of housing related benefits who are in rent arrears.
- The Welsh Government has funded the Private Rented Sector (PRS) Debt Helpline to advise and support private sector tenants struggling with rent, income and housing benefits.
- £166m Welsh Government funding has been provided to local authorities in 2021-22 through the Housing Support Grant to deliver housing-related support services to help prevent people from becoming homeless, stabilise their housing situation and help potentially homeless people to find and keep accommodation.
- The Welsh Government has funded Shelter Cymru to advise and support tenants.