One of the claims of the Labour Party in attacking the cut in spare room subsidy was that it would increase rent arrears. Indeed this was their key point. They claimed that it would not be possible for people for people with spare rooms to swap with those who were overcrowded.
They also said that it would not be possible for them to recoup the loss in benefits by paying the extra £15-£20 a week by increasing their income – such as finding work or taking in a lodger.
So Labour’s message was that rent arrears would massively increase.
What has actually happened?
In March I wrote about rent arrears actually falling and I am delighted that there is further evidence of that trend.
The Homes and Communities Agency published data last week from housing associations showing that rent arrears have fallen further.
The current tenant arrears reported this quarter represented an improvement in comparison to the previous quarter. The average figure was 3.6%. The median level of rent arrears was 3.4%, down from 3.9% last quarter. The improvement was broad based, with arrears figures lower across all deciles of performance.
The figure of rent arrears for the previous quarter was 4.8 per cent – so the fall to 3.6 per cent is significant and encouraging.
Claims that rent arrears are increasing as a result of housing benefit reforms are needless scaremongering.