Debt levels have been piling up for millions of people over the course of the pandemic and private renters are particularly likely to be feeling the financial strain.
That’s according to research and analysis by the debt help charity StepChange, which estimates that close to £25 billion worth of arrears and borrowing directly attributable to the Covid-19 crisis has been accumulated across the UK since the pandemic began.
Correspondingly, the number of people throughout the country believed to be in a position of severe problem debt is thought to have increased from 1.4 million to 1.8 million.
Among private renters, debt problems have been particularly prevalent, with roughly half having experienced a drop in their income since March 2020.
Nearly half a million people (460,000) living in the UK are thought to have fallen behind on their rent since the start of the pandemic, with around 150,000 expecting that they might be evicted from their homes over the next 12 months because they can’t afford to pay their rent.
A key issue is understood to be that high proportions of people who rent are employed within sectors that have been especially hard hit by the impact of the Covid crisis.
While both the UK and Scottish governments have introduced bans on evictions in recent months, there are growing concerns that huge numbers of people will still be struggling to cover their housing costs once those bans are lifted.
StepChange’s chief executive Phil Andrew has said: “The government’s own research shows that private renters have been hardest hit by the pandemic yet there was no reference to renters in the recent budget – a real missed opportunity to do whatever it takes to help a group so disproportionately disadvantaged.
“The government needs to build on the sticking plaster of extended notice periods, with urgent action to sustain tenancies threatened by Covid-related rent arrears.”
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