A Dundee councillor has described the financial situation of many tenants as “a perfect storm”, as the council reveals it has more than £3.5 million in rent arrears.
Labour’s Charlie Malone raised the concerns this week as councillors voted to approve new technology to help identify those who may be struggling to pay rent.
In Dundee, there are more than 5,800 homes with rent arrears, with almost 200 households owing more than £3,000.
At the end of March, Dundee City Council recorded arrears of £3.15 million.
But five months later, this had increased almost half a million pounds to £3.57 million.
Mr Malone said he hoped the new software would enable the council to help those who were at risk of falling behind.
He added: “In particular, to help them to try and cope with the demands they’ve got on their income in a number of different areas.
“As councillors we all have pockets of hardship in our communities and I think in Lochee we see that hardship every single day.
“I would welcome anything that assists people in terms of rent, but I think the context is important here.”
‘It’s a perfect storm’
He continued: “What we’ve seen is a perfect storm that is about to hit residents across the city.
“The first is the removal of the uplift of the Universal Credit, which will cost families around £1,000 a year.
“These are the most impoverished people in our communities and they’re about to have £1,000 less a year.
Today we have come together in a joint open letter to @BorisJohnson as part of a 100-strong coalition to urge the Government not to cut #UniversalCredit by £20 a week and to #KeepTheLifeline 🧵 pic.twitter.com/fIs8CyUo4u
— Joseph Rowntree Foundation (@jrf_uk) September 2, 2021
“Additionally we’ve seen the absolute fiasco in the management of the energy supplies within the UK. And that is going to lead to energy inflation costs.
“We’ve already seen the prices of petrol and gas ratcheting up.
“The third one is the National Insurance increase.
“Again that is going to disproportionately hit the poorest in our communities and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have said that two million families will bear the biggest brunt in these increases.”
Choice between heating and eating
Mr Malone added: “All these indicators are telling us that more and more people will require support and help in managing their day to day existence.
“We used to say people would have to make a decision between heating and eating. Now they’re going to have to choose between heating, eating and rent.”
Leader of Dundee Council, John Alexander, said he shared the concerns, adding: “It has been impact after impact on the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I hope this will help us identify those who need more support.”
Executive director of corporate services, Robert Emmott, said the new software would “allow us to help people quicker”.
He added: “It will help us to help them avoid getting into a difficult situation.”