Michael Gove suggests struggling renters could get cash support from the government

Watch: Michael Gove refuses to rule out financial support for renters

Michael Gove has refused to rule out cash support for renters ahead of the autumn statement next month amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Private rents are soaring in the UK, with Manchester reporting a 20.5% increase in advertised rates compared to last year, Cardiff reporting a 19.6% increase, and Edinburgh reporting an 18% increase, according to Rightmove.

Social rents, which tend to increase by inflation plus one percentage point, are set to rise significantly in April without a government intervention after inflation hit 10.1% in the year to September, a 40-year high.

Read more: Renters’ support scheme launched by First Direct and Shelter

Appearing BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg politics show, Gove said the prime minister would “support those people who are facing the toughest time” when asked if the new prime minister was considering “extra cash” for renters.

"There are people who are going to be in all sorts of difficult economic circumstances in the next six months," said Gove.

How is the UK economy performing? (Yahoo News UK/Datawrapper)
How is the UK economy performing? (Yahoo News UK/Datawrapper)

"Rent is simply going to be one of the challenges that people face. I take obviously no pleasure in saying this, but we’ve also got food price inflation."

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that four in ten renters are finding it difficult to afford their housing payments compared with 23% of mortgage holders.

Renters are also more likely to report struggling household bills, with 60% reporting finding it difficult to afford their energy bills compared to 43% of homeowners.

“We have already had support for people who are facing rising energy prices," Gove said.

File photo dated 08/02/17 of letting agent signs. Around one in seven private renters in England have been hit by a rent hike in recent weeks, according to Shelter. Some 13% of people surveyed for the charity between July 29 and August 17 said that their rent had been increased in the last month. The survey of more than 2,000 private renters also found that nearly a third (32%) say they are spending at least half their household income on rent. Issue date: Friday September 23, 2022.
Renters are more likely to be struggling with rising housing costs than mortgage holders. (PA)
The cost of living is soaring in the UK (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)
The cost of living is soaring in the UK (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)

"The combination of inflation and higher interest rates in order to deal with inflation create difficulties, and there are different ways of supporting people, whether that’s through universal credit, whether that’s through the tax system.”

According to Shelter, in September almost 2.5m renters were either behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent - an increase of 45% since April 2022.

New figures released by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show a 24% increase in rough sleeping across London compared to last year.

Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, has said the charity's services are seeing rough sleeping and wider homelessness rising fast across the UK.

Read more: People donate £400 energy support cheques to food bank - 'It's incredible'

“The government must take decisive action in the autumn statement to invest in housing benefit," he said.

"This will stem the flow of people onto our streets, and help people who are homeless to afford a place to live."

It comes as pressure grows on the government to provide more financial support to help Brits struggling with the cost of living in the autumn statement next month.

Sunak has warned that "difficult decisions" will be needed on tax and spending to fix the economy as it recovers from COVID and Liz Truss's disastrous mini-budget in September.

Watch: Rishi Sunak warns 'difficult decisions' to be made to fix economy amid cost of living crisis