§ Mr. Carrington
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the latest available figures on the arrears of rent outstanding to each local authority in England; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Trippier
I have today arranged for details of the rent arrears outstanding to English local authorities as at 1 April 1988 to be placed in the Library.
The 16 per cent. overall increase during 1987–88 is very disappointing and highlights yet again the poor performance of a minority of authorities. No less than 38 per cent. of the total arrears of £226 million (and 66 per cent. of the increase during the year) is attributable to just 10 authorities, nine Labour-controlled inner London boroughs and Liverpool.
This sorry state of affairs can be attributed only to poor housing management. That is the conclusion of independent reports by both the Audit Commission and the centre for housing research, University of Glasgow.216W
1981–82 and (b) the south-east, excluding Greater London for each year since 1981–82, showing the amounts in cash terms and at 1988–89 prices.
§ Mr. Gummer
The information is as follows:
The control of rent arrears is a vital part of good housing management. Lack of proper control is doubly unfair on those tenants who do pay their rents—it deprives authorities of money that could be used to keep their stock in good order; and it pushes rents higher than they need to be. It is unfair, too, on ratepayers who are called upon to underwrite this blatant inefficiency. We do not intend to let this state of affairs persist. Our proposals for a new financial regime will prevent subsidisation of the housing revenue account from the general rate fund. We are also considering further measures to raise management standards. But I must stress that the responsibility lies with authorities to collect the rent due to them properly and efficiently, for the benefit of all their tenants and ratepayers.