More than a quarter of renters already struggle to heat their homes in the winter, as soaring gas prices promise a “perfect storm for the homeless,” a charity said.
A survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the housing charity Shelter found that 26% of renters could not keep their homes warm in winter, which equates to 5.3 million in England.
With energy prices rising, with the holiday program due to end on Thursday and universal credit being cut a week later, the charity called for urgent action to protect tenants from the threat of eviction and homelessness.
Polly Neate, Managing Director of Shelter, said: âThe triple whammy of the end of the leave program, cuts to universal credit and soaring fuel prices can be the last straw for many tenants who are barely cling to their house.
“We are facing a perfect storm for increasing homelessness, and the new housing secretary must get the situation under control before winter arrives.”
So far, the government has maintained that its priority throughout the gas crisis has been to protect consumers, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng saying the energy price cap will remain in place.
However, this cap is expected to increase in early October and some consumers could also see their bills increase if their supplier collapses and they need to be moved to another business.
On Tuesday, Mr Kwarteng admitted in a BBC interview that it could be “a difficult winter” for families, some of whom may have to choose between eating and heating their homes.
In a statement on Friday, Ms Neate said: âOur research shows that one in four renters couldn’t keep their homes warm in the winter, even before this latest price hike.
âNo parent should have to choose between turning on the heat, putting food on the table or paying the rent – but that is the reality for so many families right now. And our helpline is already inundated with calls from people who are afraid of being deported.
âTenants urgently need a lifeline. The government must reverse its decision to cut universal credit and provide emergency grants to tenants with Covid arrears to repay their debts. Otherwise, homelessness will unfortunately increase.
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