Steve Douglas CBE was speaking at an event organised by the Resolution Foundation to consider the housing arrears crisis

St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE has said the temporary measures introduced by the Government to help people in rent arrears as a result of the pandemic are a ‘sticking plaster’ with the underlying issues still to be addressed.

Mr Douglas was speaking at a webinar hosted by the Resolution Foundation entitled Resolving rents: Tackling Britain’s rent arrears crisis on 16 February.

The event was one of a series being held in the run up to the Government’s Budget which will be announced next month

During the session a summary of the Resolution Foundation’s second report in its Recovery Plan series, which focuses on the scale of and solutions to this rent arrears crisis, was presented.

The research revealed that more than 750,000 UK families – including 300,000 with dependent children – have housing arrears built up during Covid-19 putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness.

Speaking at the event Mr Douglas said: “It is commendable that last year, the Government recognised that there was a problem and acted quickly, with a ban on evictions, to prevent people losing their homes during the pandemic.

“However those interventions are a sticking plaster – and they are kicking the can down the road.”

He continued: “At some point the ban will end, courts will reopen and action against people who are in arrears will recommence. And that has the potential to lead to increased homelessness”.

Mr Douglas then suggested in order to really tackle the inevitable issues the Government should look at short, medium and long term solutions.

He agreed with The Resolution Foundation recommendations that:

Mr Douglas concluded: “The pandemic has brought these issues in to sharp focus. There is a general consensus on the problem. We must now work together on the solutions, to prevent what could be a new tide of homelessness on the horizon.”

Alongside Mr Douglas on the panel were Meera Chindooroy, Deputy Director of Policy at the National Residential Landlords’ Association and Lindsay Judge, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation. The webinar was chaired by the Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation Torsten Bell.

A recording of the event can be watched here.

St Mungo’s budget submission can be read here