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Tenants urged to seek help as arrears levels soar

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Tenants urged to seek help as arrears levels soar

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Finance

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Tenants in Merseyside are being urged to get help with their debts, as figures reveal that total rent arrears in the area have increased by £1.7 million.

Recent research by the area's housing associations found that total arrears have risen from £21.2m a year ago to £22.9m.

Lynn Bundu, assistant director of neighbourhood services at Liverpool Housing Trust, said: “Customers are telling housing associations across Merseyside that times have never been tougher financially.

“We know that people are struggling with the aftermath of Christmas, rising gas and electricity prices and, in thousands of cases, the impact of the government’s unfair bedroom tax.

“When debt starts to pile up, whether it’s rent arrears or people falling behind with other bills, it can be frightening. We know it can be tempting to try to ignore it.

“But we are here to offer support and advice, and it’s really important that people contact their landlord or other organisations that can help them."

Thousands of Merseyside tenants are being offered advice on money matters and debt by their social landlords, with customers helped to secure at least £9.1m in benefits they were entitled to but had not been claiming.

Ian Thomson, executive director of customer excellence at Knowsley Housing Trust, said: “The latest figures about rental debt highlight the long term impact that the government’s bedroom tax is having on communities and families in Merseyside.

“It is also important to recognise the long-term impacts on the public purse that ill-health is having on residents, caused by the stress of being in debt or not being able to pay rent for the first time due to the bedroom tax.

“It is more vital than ever before that tenants contact their landlord to seek help and advice if they are struggling with debt. We have dedicated teams who can not only help tackle debt but also help maximise income through energy audits and benefit advice.”

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