Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to use this month's Budget to introduce a year long rent freeze for private and public tenants.

New research, shared with ChronicleLive, has found that the move would save hard-pressed households across the UK between £1.2 billion and £4.5 billion.

In the North East there are 235,000 private renters paying around £1.6 billion a year in rent – many to landlords from outside the region.

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It is estimated that a rent freeze in the region could generate anywhere between £33 million and £59 million in additional spending in the local economy.

Former shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has put forward the proposal, said: "Many families are facing a winter of worry and hardship from the cut in universal credit, hikes in energy prices and record rent rises. It’s really tough and uncertain time for so many.

"A rent freeze will relieve many of them of a major pressure on their household budgets this Christmas and provide increased security that they can afford to keep a decent roof over their heads.

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"It will also assist the economic recovery from Covid by maintaining demand in our economy.”

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery backed the move, telling ChronicleLive that a rent freeze would show the government was serious with its levelling up agenda.

He said: "The sums paid to landlords here in the North East is staggering and put a huge burden on many low paid families who otherwise would be contributing to our fragile local economies.

"Across my constituency there are pockets where huge numbers of houses are in the private rental sector and in many, the standards that people are forced to live in are extremely poor.

"Parts of Wansbeck’s housing stock is being bought up by speculators from outside of the area, many of whom have never visited, seeing below average prices and the opportunity to make a quick buck.

"This speculation with no care for the people here has caused the general environment to suffer and some houses to fall into total disrepair.

"My office have tracked down landlords with boarded up properties to London and other parts of the South East whilst the complex ownerships of some have made them impossible to track."

Mr Lavery said his office was currently preparing a constituency housing report that will "lay bare" the housing situation in Wansbeck.

The government have been contacted for comment.

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