The Welsh government is to introduce a new £10m grant to help people in private-rented accommodation who are struggling to pay their rent due to 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, which will launch in July, has been 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.
The scheme will replace the Tenancy Saver Loan, which was introduced in December 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, the government says, and grants will be processed from mid-July.
James said: “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.”
Responding to the announcement, Daryl McIntosh, Policy manager at Propertymark, said: “The Tenancy Hardship Grant, announced by the Welsh government, is a welcome step in supporting tenants in COVID-related rent arrears and will help to lighten the financial burden that landlords have faced during the pandemic.
“We will continue to work with the Welsh government to ensure that the scheme reaches those who need it, and encourage tenants to register their interest in the scheme as soon as possible.”
Image: Glitch Images/Shutterstock
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