Country is walking into a rent debt crisis, charity warns

Country is walking into a rent debt crisis, charity warns

A charity, the Money Advice Trust, says that Britain has a looming rent debt crisis on its hands. More than half the calls received at the National Debtline are from people behind with their rent.

The charity reports receiving 20,000 calls in the first nine months of this year from people behind with their rent – a 37% increase from two years ago.

Chief executive Joanna Elson said:: "Rent arrears are the fastest growing problem we help people with at National Debtline."

Separately, a new report by the National Housing Federation claims that rising rents are forcing 310 working people every day to start claiming housing benefit.

The report, entitled “Home Truths”, says this has cost taxpayers an extra £1.7m a day since 2009 – and a total of £12.1bn on housing benefits. The report says that in the last four years, the number of employed housing benefit claimants has risen 104%.

The report predicts that by 2020, house prices will have risen to the point that an entire generation will be forced to rent for life. However, it also predicts that rents will rise by an average of 39%, with further bills to be picked up by the taxpayer.

It says that half of tenants’ disposable income is currently taken up by rent, but that in ten years’ time the proportion will rise to 57%.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “We hear a lot about ‘making work pay’, but a decent job won’t even cover the cost of a home in England.

“Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is wasted, lining the pockets of private landlords, when it could be better spent building more homes people can afford. Relying on the private rented sector so heavily is a costly sticking plaster rather than a solution.”

He added: “We need to address the problems of the housing market now, before another generation is left locked out and reliant on taxpayers to keep the roof over their head.”

The study also warns that England’s recovery after the recession is ‘distorted’, and that while London flourishes, other communities are at a standstill.