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Coronavirus: Ministers under pressure to provide help for renters and insecure workers

The Chancellor announced a £350bn rescue package on Tuesday amid the coronavirus outbreak

2 min read

Ministers are facing increasing calls to provide support for renters, the self-employed and people facing redundancy affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The calls come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350bn bailout package on Tuesday to support the British economy amid the global pandemic.

But the Treasury package has been criticised for including a three-month mortgage holiday for homeowners facing hardship, but no support as yet for those in rented accommodation.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma on Wednesday promised that help for renters would be unveiled "very shortly".

Questions are also being raised about what support will be available for the self-employed or people made redundant affected by the crisis.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “I really regret... that there was nothing in the statement to protect renters. It affects all our constituents. 

“Will the Chancellor bring forward urgently now measures to protect renters, prevent evictions and enable rent holidays for those people unable to meet their costs?”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also called on the Chancellor to do more, adding: "The Government has announced a mortgage holiday for homeowners but it must suspend rents too. 

"Millions of people rent in the UK. Suspend rents. Ban evictions. Now."

That call was echoed by Sir Keir Starmer, the frontrunner in the race to replace MR Corbyn as Labour leader next month.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary wrote in The Guardian: “The extra fiscal stimulus announced by the Chancellor is overdue, but we have to be honest that it does not go far enough. 

“The Chancellor announced no new support for renters, no new money for social care, insufficient clarity for employment support and no new money for public services and local authorities. 

“And for industries most at risk, the government has yet to provide concrete solutions for how it will protect these businesses and the people who depend on them.”

He added: “If the government fails to appreciate that what is now a health crisis will soon be a fully-blown social-economic crisis, then they will have failed to grasp the severity of the situation.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma on Wednesday morning hinted at fresh action from the Government in the coming days.

The Cabinet minister told the Today programme: "There are millions of people across our country who pay rent and there will be a great deal of anxiety among some of them.

"And the Chancellor said very clearly yesterday at the despatch box that we are looking very actively at this.

"The Housing Secretary will be coming forward again very shortly to set out measures of how we will support rents."

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