4:00pm Thursday 24th October 2013
BEDROOM TAX has led to an “explosion” in rent arrears across Wales, costing housing associations more than £750,000 since April - new figures have revealed.
Newport East MP Jessica Morden carried out a survey of 22 associations across Wales, revealing how many tenants who had previously kept up with rental payments were spiralling into debt as a result of the controversial tax system.
Several Gwent associations were surveyed between July and August, posting some of the highest amounts of arrears accrued.
Newport City Homes had the most of all 22 associations, with arrears of £164,984.
Bron Afron Community Housing debts totalled £36,002, while Monmouthshire Housing had £8,556.20 Labour MP Ms Morden said the statistics made for “horrifying reading”.
“This is not a local problem or a statistical one-off, it is a nationwide scandal,” she said.
“It beggars belief that this pernicious tax is responsible for plunging an average of over half of people with a previously good record of rent payment into arrears. In some areas, the figure is as high as 75 per cent.
According to the figures, arrears are tipped to hit £1 million by the end of the year.
Ms Morden said it showed how “starkly out of touch” the Conservative party is.
“This terrible tax will see homelessness soar, and weaken the financial ability of housing associations to reinvest in upgrading their houses and building new homes. Even worse, there will be a drop in the capital to build the smaller properties needed as a result of the bedroom tax.
In a breakdown of the percentage of tenants affected, 55 per cent from Newport City Homes were now struggling to pay, who had not previously been in arrears.
The figures were slightly lower at Bron Afon, where 40 per cent tenants who were not previously in arrears were now owing money, but at Monmouthshire Housing it was significantly higher with 72 per cent affected who had not previously been in debt.
More than 9,000 people are thought to be affected by the bedroom tax in Gwent.
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