Council house tenants in Dudley owe more than £1.4m in unpaid rent, new figures show.
There are around 5,435 households in arrears across the borough, Dudley Council says and the total amount owed is £1,405,690.
Councillor Ken Finch, who represents Castle & Priory, one of Dudley’s most deprived wards, said he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the figures.
He said he was seeing an increase in the number of people with rent problems at his weekly surgeries
“The bedroom tax and other benefit reforms have really taken their toll. It’s not just one cut but many that are affecting people. People are really struggling. We are seeing more and more people who are having problems paying their rent. But for every one we are seeing, I’m sure there are three or four more who are struggling in silence.”
There has also been increased demand for the council’s mortgage advice service which has helped more than 350 people during the past year.
Councillor Gaye Partridge, cabinet member for housing, said: “If anyone is struggling to pay their rent it is important that they don’t ignore it but contact us and we can help. We have income management officers who can talk through their problems with them, make sure that they are receiving all the of the benefits that they are entitled to and put together a manageable plan to help them pay off any arrears.”
Figures released at the beginning of the year showed there were around 4,000 people on the waiting list for council properties in Dudley.
Of these, 2,091 are hoping for a one-bedroom property and 1,420 for a two-bedroom home with only 441 seeking a three-bedroom property and 143 a four-bedroom.
The problem is mirrored up and down the country. The number of calls taken by homeless charity Shelter from people struggling to pay for their homes in the West Midlands has soared by just over 97 per cent in the last two years.