RENT arrears will rise once new benefit rules come in, a top councillor warned last night.
Kirklees Council deputy leader Clr David Sheard predicted that the Government’s housing benefit cuts would lead to an increase in the amount owed by tenants.
“We will work like hell to stop the arrears going up, but anyone who thinks these changes won’t affect the collection rate is living in a different world,” said the Heckmondwike Labour man.
Clr Sheard was speaking after senior staff at Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH) updated councillors on arrears.
The organisation, which manages 23,000 homes on behalf of the council, reported that current tenants owe £1.239m, down from £1.408m a year ago.
Former residents’ arrears have also fallen, from £2.866m to £2.586m.
The Government is bringing in several changes to housing benefit, including:
Reducing payments to tenants under-occupying from April 2013.
Introducing direct payments of rents to tenants later that year.
Increasing deductions from housing benefit for non-dependants in the household.
KNH chief executive Simon Rogers told the town hall meetingl: “We recognise that there are some significant challenges in the coming years as a result of welfare reform.”