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Today in politics: RICS figures, shared accommodation rate, quarantine plans and Universal Credit

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

We look at the latest figures from RICS, funding for vulnerable tenants, government quarantine plans and Universal Credit.

RICS Predict rents will fall 

RICS has published its latest Residential Market Survey for May 2020. 

It says: “In the lettings market, tenant demand was down over the month according to a net balance of -12% of respondents (non-seasonally adjusted monthly series). 

“Even so, the latest reading is up from -48% in April. 

“Meanwhile, landlord instructions continued to fall sharply, extending a trend that long predates the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“Near term expectations continue to point to rents falling over the coming three months, albeit negativity has diminished somewhat, with the net balance moving to -11% from -39% previously.”

Shared accommodation rate

Zarah Sultana MP (Labour, Coventry South) has received a response to her written question asking what plans the DWP has to bring forward legislative proposals to include homeless people aged under 25 in:

(a) Coventry South constituency and 

(b) the UK in the Shared Accommodation Rate exemption for homeless people.

Work and Pensions Minister, Will Quince MP, responded: “Currently those aged 25-34 who have spent three months in a homeless hostel for the purposes of rehabilitation/re-settlement are exempt from the shared accommodation rate throughout the UK. As announced in the Spring Budget earlier this year, the Government will amend legislation to extend this exemption to those under 25.

“As well as legislation, the change to the shared accommodation rate exemption will require amendments to local authority and universal credit IT systems therefore it will take time to implement.

“In the meantime, for individuals who may require more support and whose circumstances may make it difficult for them to share accommodation, Discretionary Housing Payments are available.

“Since 2011 the Government has provided over £1bn to local authorities to help support vulnerable claimants with housing costs. In addition, at the spending round last year, we announced an extra £40 million for DHPs in 2020/21 in England and Wales, helping to tackle affordability pressures in the private rented sector.”

MP questions government on student quarantine plan 

Mark Pritchard MP (Conservative, The Wrekin) has received a response to his written question asking what discussions the Department for Education has held with representatives of the universities sector on reopening residential accommodation for students who return to the UK from abroad and who will need to provide a UK residential address in order to comply with the requirement to quarantine for 14 days.

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, responded: “We are in discussions with Universities UK and other sector representatives on a regular basis to ensure that international higher education students are welcomed to the UK and we expect international students to be supported upon arrival by their chosen university during these unprecedented times.

“We welcome the actions of Universities UK, who have set out principles for the sector to consider as it prepares for the autumn term, including encouraging higher education providers to think about how to support students during the self-isolation period.

“The department has also published guidance to support providers in making decisions on re-opening campuses and buildings to students and staff ahead of the academic year 2020/21. Further information on this guidance can be found here. 

“International students who are considering studying at a UK higher education provider from September 2020 should contact their chosen university to find out how they are adapting to the COVID-19 outbreak, including how international students can prepare themselves for an autumn start.”

Survey shows ‘hardship’ over wait for UC payment 

New research from Citizens Advice has found that out of 500 people surveyed who have applied for Universal Credit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, more than half (53%) have faced hardship during the five-week wait for their first payment.

Research from Citizens Advice shows one in seven surveyed (14%) who’ve applied for Universal Credit since the lockdown haven’t been able to afford essentials like food and heating while waiting for their first payment. Further to this, one in five (19%) have borrowed money from family and friends.

Cases seen by the charity’s advisers include people who have had to skip meals, rely on hot water bottles for warmth, and sell personal possessions for income during the five-week wait. 

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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