Issue - decisions
Housing Rent Income
The Chief Officer (Housing & Assets) introduced the operational update for 2021/22 housing rent collection.
The Revenues Manager advised total rent arrears for current tenants, as at week 28 (up to mid-October 2021) was £2.40m, compared to £2.35m at the same point in 2020/21 and £2.40m at the same point in 2019/20 pre-pandemic. The Rent Income Service continued to support tenants and ensure interventions were provided to tenants to prevent further legal action and to ensure tenants met their payments.
The Revenues Manager provided a detailed presentation which covered the following areas:-
- Rent Collections – Latest position (to week 35)
- National Benchmarking forecasts for 2021-22
- Trends with service demands/contacts
- Latest Position – Banded Arrears
- Latest Position – Tenants in Arrears
- A granular review at £5k + arrears
In response to comments made by Councillor David Wisinger around whether both National and Welsh Governments should be doing more and the further negative impacts the pandemic could have, the Chief Executive assured Members that the Housing Portfolio was prepared to assist tenants and had been working and modifying their processes for a number of years. Some things were unable to be controlled but the Council had resourced teams to assist tenants providing support to keep them in their homes and not to be evicted. He agreed that the pandemic could have further negative impacts but wanted to reassure the Committee that the Housing Service would be doing all it could to assist tenants in this very difficult time.
The Revenue Manager agreed with the comments made by the Chief Executive and added that several months ago a business case was made to increase the level of resources in the business plan for the Housing Revenue Account. This was to provide additional support as the service could see that there were more challenges ahead and resources would need to be put in place to provide that support.
Councillor Brian Lloyd asked if the significant arrears, as outlined within the report, could be re-claimed or whether this would have to be written off. The Revenues Manager explained that large arrears were not automatically written off. If tenants were required to be evicted and there were opportunities to pursue those rent arrears then this would be done. It was challenging and if all the processes had been carried out without success and then the debt had to be written off.
The Cabinet Member for Housing reassured members that everything was being done to avoid evictions. If the Council had not invested in the Mobysoft ‘Rent Sense’ software he felt that the situation would have been worse. He felt the changes being made within the Housing portfolio would provide that support to tenants.
Councillor Dennis Hutchinson congratulated the Revenues Manager and the team for doing all they could in difficult circumstances. He added that when tenants were £5k arrears it was very difficult to get back on track but wanted to thank the team for all their work.
The Chair congratulated the team. She said the 6 month lead in time to evictions was very difficult but appreciated why WG put these measures in place. There were also peaks when children returned to school, due to costs of school uniforms and at Christmas time and the general cost of living.
Councillor Ron Davies commented that the update had been very well presented and felt that universal credit should be scrapped in order to support tenants.
The recommendation, as outlined within the report, was moved and seconded by Councillor Brian Lloyd and Councillor Mared Eastwood.
That the latest financial position for rent collection in 2021/22, as set out in the report and presentation, be noted.