Bedford's private renters pay more than £400 extra compared to social tenants

Housing campaigners slam the Government for not doing more

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:58 pm

Private renters in Bedford fork out more than £400 extra per month on average to keep a roof over their heads compared to those in social homes, figures show.

Housing campaigners have slammed the Government for not doing more to support renters in its Budget after the Chancellor announced additional help for home buyers.

They say building more social homes is the best solution to thousands of tenants across the country having their bank balances “bled dry by expensive private rents”.

Housing campaigners have slammed the Government for not doing more to support renters in its Budget after the Chancellor announced additional help for home buyers

The average weekly rent for a social home in Bedford was £97 in March last year, Regulator of Social Housing figures show – about £421 per month.

But Office for National Statistics data shows the average private rent in the area was £823 – around £402 more expensive.

Social housing is provided by housing associations or councils, and rent is pegged to local incomes. The RSH figures are net rent, which excludes service charges.

In the recent Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extension of the stamp duty holiday, suspending the tax on all property sales up to £500,000 until June. The threshold will then drop to £250,000 before returning to the pre-pandemic level of £125,000 in October.

He also introduced a mortgage guarantee scheme so home-buyers can get mortgages with 5 per cent deposits more easily.

But Mr Sunak has faced criticism for what some saw as a lack of support for struggling renters.

“The Budget was completely out of touch with the reality most renters are facing,” said Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter.

“Renters across the country are having their bank balances bled dry by expensive private rents and most are nowhere near to home ownership. In fact, two-thirds of renters have no savings at all.”

She added: “Social housing is affordable and secure by design. It is the best cure for the housing emergency and the only way to lift millions out of housing poverty.

“That’s why the Government must invest in new social homes for the future, to create genuinely affordable homes for those who desperately need one.”

Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of the campaign group Generation Rent, said the number of private renters who depend on benefits has surged during the pandemic.

“But the rates on offer are inadequate compared with average rents and more than half of private renters getting Universal Credit don’t get enough to cover their rent," he added.

“This is causing hardship, rent arrears and the threat of eviction and homelessness.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said the Government is “providing more support than ever before to help people onto the housing ladder”.

She added: “Alongside First Homes, Shared Ownership, our £12 billion investment in affordable housing and our Help to Buy scheme, the Chancellor this week announced a new mortgage guarantee scheme that will help thousands more families take their first step into a home they own.”