Southwark Council has suspended evictions over rent arrears for council tenants amid the Covid-19 outbreak.  

It has also added more than £2 million to its emergency hardship fund to help those “in crisis” who can’t pay rent or are waiting for their first universal credit payment.  

Cabinet member for finance performance and Brexit, Councillor Victoria Mills, urged those struggling to contact the council.

She said: “Urgent action is needed from Government but as we wait Southwark Council has added to our Emergency Hardship fund so there is £2.15 million for those in crisis.  

“If you cannot cover basic needs please phone 020 7525 2434.  

“This includes help as you wait or your 1st payment of UC or other benefits.” 

In a message the Ledbury Action Group posted online she said the fund will extend to those who “experience a sudden loss or interruption of income as a consequence of the impacts of Covid-19 and who don’t have other resources to meet their basic needs”.  

“In addition, council enforcement action in relation to unpaid debts, such as council tax, council rents, leaseholder payments, including court activity will be halted for the foreseeable future. 

“Eviction activity related to rent arrears or delays in benefit payments will be suspended. 

“We will continue to monitor this in response to any further help, funding or direction from central Government,” Cllr Mills said.  

She also urged people who can afford to pay their rent to do so “in the sure and safe knowledge that if a time comes that you can’t, the council will do its best to help”.  

Cllr Mills said if anyone is aware of residents struggling to pay rent they should contact the council.  

It comes as the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a three-month holiday from mortage payments for those in financial difficulty but provided little support for renters.