Mortgage holidays are a breeze, but try taking a rent break | Torsten Bell


All recessions are bad, but in different ways. Different industries and types of workers are affected – the financial crisis was a bad time for bankers and it’s lower earners who are bearing the greatest economic and health risks this time.

But family finances are also about the money that goes out, not just what comes in. By far the biggest cost households face is housing, and here too we see this crisis playing out very differently.

New Resolution Foundation research has found that private renters are 50% more likely than mortgagers to have fallen behind on housing costs in the crisis, with 13% in that situation. This is partly because 20% of private, and a quarter of social, renters have lost their job or been furloughed, compared with 14% of mortgagers. But it’s also because it’s easier to flex mortgage costs than rent.

Around 13% of mortgagers have applied for a mortgage holiday. Almost all have been granted. In contrast, one in 10 private renters have tried to negotiate down their rent but just half have been successful.

For some younger renters, the answer has been moving home, with two thirds of those moving recently returning to the parental nest. But that can’t be the answer for most, so if we don’t want what is already a jobs disaster turning into a renters’ catastrophe, then our social security system needs to step up to help rents get paid.

Torsten Bell is chief executive of the Resolution Foundation. Read more at resolutionfoundation.org



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