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Housing debt is dropping in Perth and Kinross

Perth and Kinross Council headquarters.
Perth and Kinross Council headquarters.

A push to reduce rent arrears by Perth and Kinross Council is working, but the authority is still owed more than £1 million.

Fewer social housing tenants are in arrears than two years ago.

The council says the turnaround is due to its work supporting tenants and offering advice.

The local authority has also changed its collection process.

There are currently 2,039 council tenants in arrears, owing a total of £1.3 million. Two years ago debt totalling £1.6 million was owed by 2,202 households.

This year so far the council has collected more than 100% of the rent it was due, including debt owed from previous years.

Changes in the council’s collection procedures include offering various repayment methods, early intervention for tenants in arrears and making advice more readily available.

A spokeswoman said: “Perth and Kinross Council takes a very proactive approach to rent arrears.

“Improved processes for the collection of rent arrears were implemented in January 2016. We put a great emphasis on face to face contact and providing a range of supportive measures to all tenants who find themselves in arrears.

“Where arrears do accrue we act quickly and speak with our tenants to set up affordable repayment agreements with them to allow the debt to be repaid quickly, but at an affordable level to the tenant.

“These processes have resulted in a decrease in our rent arrears figures. Rent arrears are a key performance area for the housing service and arrears levels are monitored closely ensure we are maximising income for the council.”

The news comes after The Courier reported concerns about the controversial benefit system Universal Credit, while was fully rolled out in Perth and Kinross in June.

It is feared the reform, which includes a minimum five-week wait for initial payment, may cause rent arrears to rocket, but figures relating to new universal claimants are not yet available.

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