Submitted by James Martin on Friday 13th March 2020
Published on Thursday 19th March 2020
Current status: Closed
Closed: Saturday 19th September 2020
Encourage lenders, landlords and utilities to freeze payments during lockdown
If the country is locked down during a pandemic, the government should work with mortgage providers, landlords and utility companies to freeze rent, mortgage and utility bill payments.
This should happen for everyone unable to work during that period, whether their workplace has been closed, or they have to stay home to look after children.
If the country is locked down due to a pandemic many people wont be able to work for various reasons. During this time people should not have to worry about their finances. If it is everyone's best interest that people stay home then support should be offered to allow people to do so. Statutory sick pay does not cover most people's rent, and many people do not have savings, and if we dont support these people we risk forcing them to go to work when they shouldnt be doing so.
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The Government responded to this petition on Friday 5th June 2020
The Government has announced cross sector support for consumers and businesses impacted by Covid 19 and we will continue to consider how consumers can be further supported.
This petition raises concerns about many households’ abilities to meet their nondiscretionary spending as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on personal finances and proposes a solution of government action to freeze household bills to alleviate this pressure.
The Government agrees that households struggling with their finances should be supported during this crisis which is why it is taking action to: a) support and protect household incomes; and b) ensure that firms are providing flexibility and forbearance for customers that are unable to meet their bills at this time. The measures announced by the Government, which are described below, addresses the concerns of the petition and ensures that household finances are being protected.
The Government will make sure it protects, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes. On 12 May, the Government announced a major extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will continue to the end of October, including more flexibility and employer contributions from August as people return to work. All UK employers can apply for a grant that covers 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions. The first grant payments have now been paid to help support jobs that might otherwise have been lost. On Thursday 26 March the Chancellor announced a new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to support self-employed individuals affected by coronavirus outbreak. The SEISS will provide grants to those who are self-employed, or members of partnerships, worth 80% of their trading profits/partnership trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. To support those on low incomes through the outbreak the Government has announced a package of temporary welfare measures, which includes an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents.
On the 17 March, the Chancellor announced on behalf of the sector that banks and building societies would offer a 3-month ‘mortgage holiday’ for borrowers that are financially struggling with their repayments. Following from this, draft guidance announced by the FCA on the 22nd May included the option for individuals to extend their mortgage holiday for a further 3 months where needed. This measure has also been extended to Buy to Let landlords struggling as a result of their tenants being unable to meet their rental repayments.
The Government has implemented legislation that prevents landlords from being able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3-month period from the 26th March. This will provide reassurance that tenants will not have their homes repossessed at this difficult time.
Customers who are concerned about the current financial situation should get in touch with their lender or landlord at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Chancellor has also recently responded to a query on his official Twitter Q&A regarding a rent freeze, you can find his response here https://twitter.com/RishiSunak/status/1263808830355517441.
With regards to energy bills, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on 19 March that the Government, working with Citizens Advice, Ofgem and Energy UK have secured an industry-wide agreement to a set of principles for assisting consumers through difficulties caused by Covid-19. These are to: identify and prioritise customers at risk, support customers who are impacted financially as a direct or indirect result of Covid 19, and support prepayment meter customers directly or indirectly impacted by Covid 19 to stay on supply.
The support offered will be based on the individual circumstances of the customer and the systems, processes and capability of the supply company, but could include extending discretionary or friendly credit, or sending out a pre-loaded top up card for traditional prepay customers who are unable to top up.
In the first instance, we suggest self-isolating customers contact their energy supplier to find out what support will be available. If you need further advice, we suggest you contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS), a Government funded advice service. You can find out more about CACS on website www.adviceguide.org.uk or by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
While the government does not intend to bring in measures to freeze rent, mortgage and utility bill payments at this time, it has announced a significant range of financial measures and will continue to deliberate on how best it can support all those impacted by covid-19. These measures of cross sector support are already available to those that are financially struggling due to the effects of Covid 19 to help enable them to continue to pay their bills.
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302256)
This petition was debated in Parliament on Thursday 17th September 2020
220.127.116.11 Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:19:32 +0100