We understand the pressures that renters are facing with increasing rents and energy bills. That is why we have provided more than £37 billion of support this year to those who need it the most. Everyone deserves to live in a safe and secure home, and the Prime Minister is committed to the ban on section 21 no-fault evictions to protect tenants.
Ensuring a fair deal for renters remains a priority for the Government. The Government consultation on introducing a decent homes standard for the rented sector closed on Friday, and we are carefully considering our next steps to support the rental market.
The Prime Minister has U-turned on scrapping unfair section 21 no-fault evictions, but the freeze on housing benefit rates still stands. Millions are struggling to afford rent or are worried about being evicted during a cost of living crisis. They deserve much better than the chaos in Government. Will the Secretary of State give private renters the certainty that they need by immediately publishing the renters reform Bill?
We will bring forward reforms for renters when parliamentary time allows. What I can say in reply to the hon. Gentleman’s point about housing benefit is that we recognise that it is an extremely important and sensitive area of policy: that is why we have maintained local housing allowance rates at increased levels following the covid pandemic. We keep all these issues under review, and clearly this is something that we will be coming back to in due course.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism looked at 363 properties in Bristol and found that in only one of them was local housing allowance enough to cover the rent. What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that LHA keeps pace with market rents, particularly in places such as Bristol, where so many people are now being priced out of housing?
My colleagues across the Government and I continue to keep rates under very close review. We have maintained the heightened rates that were introduced in April 2020. I very much welcome all proposals that the hon. Lady brings forward about the situation in Bristol so that we can look at that in more detail.
Is the Secretary of State aware that rents have risen by 15% in London and that the same has happened in my constituency? My constituent was forced to leave an abusive marriage. She works, but she can barely afford the private rent for herself and her children. She is already on universal credit. To make matters worse, her rent has recently increased by £300. How will the Government address such situations? When will they bring in the long-awaited renters reform Bill?
I am very happy to look at the situation affecting the hon. Lady’s constituent; it is something about which I always welcome discussion. We do have discretionary housing payments for people in very hard situations such as the case to which the hon. Lady refers. On the timetable for rental reform legislation, we will bring forward legislation when time in Parliament allows. That is an obvious priority for the whole Government.
My hon. Friend is a consistent and effective advocate for the issues that affect rural constituencies such as North Devon, and I recognise—not least as a result of our conversations about the subject—just what a problem this is for her constituency. We are looking at all the options to ensure that there is a proper supply of rental properties in such areas.
Last week Government sources told The Times that Ministers were planning to renege on their commitment to abolish section 21 no-fault evictions, only for the Prime Minister to stand up days later and deny that that was the case. Private renters need long-term security and better rights and conditions now, not chaotic mixed messaging from a Government in disarray. Can the Secretary of State give the House a cast-iron guarantee from the Dispatch Box today that if the Government are still standing come the time, a renters’ reform Bill will be introduced in the next parliamentary Session?
I can confirm that we will introduce the rental reform Bill in the course of this Parliament. That is a commitment that we have made and are determined to honour. I could not be clearer in saying that I echo the Prime Minister’s words last Wednesday that this is going to happen.