§ Mr. Nicholas Baker
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest available figure for arrears of council house rents in England and Wales.
§ Sir George Young
Almost all the returns for English local authorities giving information on rent arrears of current and former tenants have now been made. The provisional indications are that gross rent arrears had risen to over £200 million by April 1985. They then represented 5.9 per cent. of gross rent collectable, compared to 5.1 per cent. at April 1984.
Arrears on this scale represent a scandalous and avoidable waste of resources. My Department and the Audit Commission have issued comprehensive guidance on how to deal with rent arrears. We will continue to press 60W local authorities with significant arrears to put their affairs in order. I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales for figures for Welsh local authorities.