Closed petition Encourage lenders, landlords and utilities to freeze payments during lockdown

If the country is locked down during a pandemic, the government should work with mortgage providers, landlords and utility companies to freeze rent, mortgage and utility bill payments.

More details

This should happen for everyone unable to work during that period, whether their workplace has been closed, or they have to stay home to look after children.

If the country is locked down due to a pandemic many people wont be able to work for various reasons. During this time people should not have to worry about their finances. If it is everyone's best interest that people stay home then support should be offered to allow people to do so. Statutory sick pay does not cover most people's rent, and many people do not have savings, and if we dont support these people we risk forcing them to go to work when they shouldnt be doing so.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 17 September 2020

Government responded

This response was given on 5 June 2020

The Government has announced cross sector support for consumers and businesses impacted by Covid 19 and we will continue to consider how consumers can be further supported.

Read the response in full

This petition raises concerns about many households’ abilities to meet their nondiscretionary spending as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on personal finances and proposes a solution of government action to freeze household bills to alleviate this pressure.

The Government agrees that households struggling with their finances should be supported during this crisis which is why it is taking action to: a) support and protect household incomes; and b) ensure that firms are providing flexibility and forbearance for customers that are unable to meet their bills at this time. The measures announced by the Government, which are described below, addresses the concerns of the petition and ensures that household finances are being protected.

The Government will make sure it protects, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes. On 12 May, the Government announced a major extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will continue to the end of October, including more flexibility and employer contributions from August as people return to work. All UK employers can apply for a grant that covers 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions. The first grant payments have now been paid to help support jobs that might otherwise have been lost. On Thursday 26 March the Chancellor announced a new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to support self-employed individuals affected by coronavirus outbreak. The SEISS will provide grants to those who are self-employed, or members of partnerships, worth 80% of their trading profits/partnership trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. To support those on low incomes through the outbreak the Government has announced a package of temporary welfare measures, which includes an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents.

On the 17 March, the Chancellor announced on behalf of the sector that banks and building societies would offer a 3-month ‘mortgage holiday’ for borrowers that are financially struggling with their repayments. Following from this, draft guidance announced by the FCA on the 22nd May included the option for individuals to extend their mortgage holiday for a further 3 months where needed. This measure has also been extended to Buy to Let landlords struggling as a result of their tenants being unable to meet their rental repayments.

The Government has implemented legislation that prevents landlords from being able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3-month period from the 26th March. This will provide reassurance that tenants will not have their homes repossessed at this difficult time.

Customers who are concerned about the current financial situation should get in touch with their lender or landlord at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Chancellor has also recently responded to a query on his official Twitter Q&A regarding a rent freeze, you can find his response here https://twitter.com/RishiSunak/status/1263808830355517441.

With regards to energy bills, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on 19 March that the Government, working with Citizens Advice, Ofgem and Energy UK have secured an industry-wide agreement to a set of principles for assisting consumers through difficulties caused by Covid-19. These are to: identify and prioritise customers at risk, support customers who are impacted financially as a direct or indirect result of Covid 19, and support prepayment meter customers directly or indirectly impacted by Covid 19 to stay on supply.

The support offered will be based on the individual circumstances of the customer and the systems, processes and capability of the supply company, but could include extending discretionary or friendly credit, or sending out a pre-loaded top up card for traditional prepay customers who are unable to top up.

In the first instance, we suggest self-isolating customers contact their energy supplier to find out what support will be available. If you need further advice, we suggest you contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS), a Government funded advice service. You can find out more about CACS on website www.adviceguide.org.uk or by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

While the government does not intend to bring in measures to freeze rent, mortgage and utility bill payments at this time, it has announced a significant range of financial measures and will continue to deliberate on how best it can support all those impacted by covid-19. These measures of cross sector support are already available to those that are financially struggling due to the effects of Covid 19 to help enable them to continue to pay their bills.

HM Treasury

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302256)

Other parliamentary business

Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have considered the Government’s response to this petition. They felt that the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response.

When the Committee have received a revised response from the Government, this will be published on the website and you will receive an email. If you would not like to receive further updates about this petition, you can unsubscribe below.

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

Last week the Petitions Committee put some of the most popular questions from the public about coronavirus to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Share your experiences of using the benefits system during the coronavirus outbreak

A group of MPs called the Work and Pensions Committee would like to hear about people’s experiences of using the benefits system during the coronavirus outbreak.
 
They’d like to hear from you if:
 
- you’ve started to claim benefits during the coronavirus outbreak (for example, Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance)
- you were already claiming benefits before the coronavirus outbreak
- you needed support but weren’t able to claim benefits
 
You can share your experiences here: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=nt3mHDeziEC-Xo277ASzSjmyhv4Lz8tPuToBKZcY2O9UNVJNRzM0M1E1RVk3U0EzWkRDR1czQ1U3Ri4u
 
They’d like to hear from you by Wednesday 15 April. Your answers will help them to understand the issues people are facing and what questions MPs need to ask the Government. 
 
They might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons. So please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.
 
You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter @CommonsWorkpen or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/164/work-and-pensions-committee

What is the Work and Pensions Committee?

The Work and Pensions Committee looks at and questions how the Government Department for Work and Pensions:

· is run
· spends money
· decides on its policies

It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Original Government response

The Government has announced cross sector support for consumers and businesses impacted by Covid 19 and we will continue to consider how consumers can be further supported.

On the 17 March, the Chancellor announced on behalf of the sector that banks and building societies will offer a 3-month ‘mortgage holiday’ for borrowers, including landlords with Buy-to-Let mortgages, that are financially struggling with their repayments. This forbearance measure will enable affected borrowers to defer their mortgage payments for up to 3 months while they get back on their feet.

The Government has implemented emergency legislation requiring landlords to give tenants three months’ notice if they wish to seek possession. The court service has also halted all housing possession action, initially for 90 days, although this can be extended if needed.

Customers who are concerned about the current financial situation should get in touch with their lender or landlord at the earliest possible opportunity.

With regards to energy bills, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on 19 March that the Government, working with Citizens Advice, Ofgem and Energy UK have secured an industry-wide agreement to a set of principles for assisting consumers through difficulties caused by Covid-19. These are to: identify and prioritise customers at risk, support customers who are impacted financially as a direct or indirect result of Covid 19, and support prepayment meter customers directly or indirectly impacted by Covid 19 to stay on supply.

The support offered will be based on the individual circumstances of the customer and the systems, processes and capability of the supply company, but could include extending discretionary or friendly credit, or sending out a pre-loaded top up card for traditional prepay customers who are unable to top up.

In the first instance, we suggest self-isolating customers contact their energy supplier to find out what support will be available. If you need further advice, we suggest you contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS), a Government funded advice service. You can find out more about CACS on website www.adviceguide.org.uk or by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

HM Treasury

This response was given on 3 April 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

E-petition session on support for households during COVID-19

On Thursday 17 September the Petitions Committee will hold a hybrid e-petitions session to discuss petitions relating to supporting households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 347,000 petitioners have now signed parliamentary petitions relating to supporting households through the coronavirus crisis, as the Government continues to adapt the support system being offered across the country. The session will allow MPs to discuss these petitions, including:

• Implement Universal Basic Income to give home & food security through Covid19: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302284
• Encourage lenders, landlords and utilities to freeze payments during lockdown: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302256
• Require councils to suspend council tax payments during the coronavirus outbreak: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/303274

Ministers from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions and Treasury will be attending to respond to the debate.

This session has been scheduled because sittings in Westminster Hall (where e-petitions are normally debated) are still suspended as part of Parliament’s arrangements for adapting to the Coronavirus outbreak. This session will be held in one of Parliament’s committee rooms, with the option of MPs participating via video-link, giving them the opportunity to debate and question Government Ministers on the issues being raised by petitioners.

Watch live from 2.30pm on Thursday 17 September: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/680ac921-0f35-4295-ae1c-76aea7b4b007

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/119010/mps-to-present-concerns-to-ministers-on-support-for-households-during-covid19/

Follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter @HOCpetitions: https://twitter.com/HoCpetitions