Emergency legislation will form part of efforts to protect public health and support renters this Christmas, Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James has confirmed.
The Welsh Government has agreed measures to suspend evictions from social and private rented accommodation between December 11 and January 11 this year as part of its response to tackling the spread of COVID-19.
Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James said:
We have taken action to protect public health and support Welsh tenants this Christmas. This is an extremely difficult time for many people and renters should not be forced out of their homes, at a time when there will be less access to advice, support and alternative accommodation. We also know that people who are homeless are at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus.
One of the best ways of tackling homelessness is to prevent it happening to begin with and this is just one of the steps we are taking as many people face uncertainty.
This year we are investing up to £50 million to tackle homelessness, which is not simply about ensuring that no-one need sleep rough, but to transform services to ensure there are permanent homes for people who are at risk of being homeless.
Earlier this year the Welsh Government provided an extra £1.4m through the Single Advice Fund, to support people to manage problem debt and improve their household income. Part of this funding was used to create the Early Alert Scheme for rent arrears and other household debt in the private rented sector. This is helping many people living in private rented accommodation to access the support they need.
In addition, the Welsh Government’s Tenancy Saver Loan Scheme offers private sector tenants who are in rent arrears a low cost loan which is paid directly to the landlord, to address debt and to prevent evictions.
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt said:
It’s vital that the most vulnerable people in our communities have access to free and impartial advice that they can trust, and the financial support through the benefits system that they need, especially during these difficult times. The issues people have faced aren’t going away.
The Single Advice Fund is continuing to enable people across Wales to access the advice and support they need to maximise their income, resolve housing issues, and manage debt.