Minister for Climate Change Julie James is urging anyone who has fallen behind in paying rent because of the pandemic to contact their local authority to find out if they can receive financial help to avoid eviction.
The call is in a bid to keep people in their homes and close to their social networks to avoid the devastating impact that homelessness can wreak on physical, mental and social wellbeing.
First announced in July last year, new changes to the £10m Tenancy Hardship Grant just announced mean that anyone facing arrears due to covid-related reasons from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 right up until December 2021, can apply.
This means that tenants in rent arrears because they lost their jobs following the removal of the Furlough scheme in September, or who suffered a significant decrease in income when the Universal Credit uplift was removed by UK Government, may now be eligible under the new criteria.
Other examples of rent arrears as a direct result of the pandemic include a loss of income due to lockdowns or because of becoming ill with Covid-19.
Also now able to apply are tenants in social housing who are not in receipt of housing-related benefits. Tenants in private rented accommodation are still encouraged to apply.
Julie James said: “I am urging anyone who is facing eviction or who has fallen behind on their rent because of the pandemic to contact their local authority today to find out what help is available to them.
“Our £10m Tenancy Hardship Grant will help prevent eviction and support tenants to remain in their homes. The impact of being made homeless on people and families is huge – including support networks being lost, children having to move school, and families’ mental health and well-being suffering. We want to do all we can to help avoid that situation.
“The grant should provide significant cost savings to each local authority in preventing homelessness and supporting people to remain in their homes and maintain their tenancies.”
Ruth Power, CEO of Shelter Cymru said: “We welcome the changes to the Tenancy Hardship Grant announced today. Widening the eligibility criteria will mean more people, who are struggling during the pandemic to pay their rent, are able to access support to keep their homes. Our advisors are working with people across Wales whose incomes have been seriously affected by the pandemic and who are really worried about the future. Getting money quickly to people in need will prevent families becoming homeless.”
* Applications are now open, with the final date for rent support being December 31st 2021.