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Rossendale tenants in rent arrears up by two-thirds
ROSSENDALE’S biggest social housing provider has revealed that almost two-thirds of its tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ have fallen behind on their rent.
Green Vale Homes said 147 of its 232 tenants affected by the welfare reform had missed payments totalling £44,000 since April.
The group, which manages around 4,000 homes in the borough, said the number of people struggling to cope financially had more than doubled from 72 to 147 since April.
Rossendale Council leader, Labour’s Alyson Barnes, said the policy had hit the borough’s poorest families.
The council has pledged £50,000 to the Rossendale Citizens’ Advice Bureau and £9,200 to the Valley’s three credit unions for them to help families struggling financially.
Coun Barnes said: “Our poorest residents are finding it really tough. Some of those affected are working families and it has an effect on children too.
“That’s why we’re retaining the money in the grant pot of organisations like Citizens’ Advice and the credit union.
“It’s a principled decision by the Labour group in Rossendale. The pressure these families are under means we need to support them.”
Frances Clarke, head of Green Vale Homes, said: “Since the introduction of the underoccupancy scheme or ‘bedroom tax’ we have seen the amount of people with one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms and in debt increase from 72 cases to 147 with the overall cost of this debt currently standing at £44,768.
“We have and will continue to work with people living in our properties to try and help them cope with the any financial burden they may be suffering and we urge them to contact us immediately.”
The reforms restricted the amount of housing benefit payable to working-age claimants who under-occupy their social sector homes.
Rossendale Conservative MP, Jake Berry, said: “It’s right that those struggling to keep up with the changes have access to the £330million discretionary fund to enable them to make up their shortfall in rent.
“I would encourage Green Vale to help their tenants to access this money.”
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