RENT arrears racked up by Dungannon’s Housing Executive tenants have went through the roof, amounting to £705,000 over the last four years.
Rents in Dungannon are amongst the highest in the North, with the town’s rapidly growing population increasing competition for housing.
Worryingly, the amount of arrears has jumped in the past year from £158,000 in 2011 to £172,000 in 2013. Just over 10 percent of the borough’s residents are in social housing, with the Housing Executive owning 1,783 properties.
Unlike elsewhere in the UK, Northern Ireland has yet to introduce the Government’s contentious welfare reform changes.
The Assembly has been warned by the Treasury if it does not implement the reforms by January the Northern Ireland block grant will be “adjusted”.
MLA Bronwyn McGahan has warned that many local families will be penalised by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
“Having a home is a basic human right and Sinn Féin intend to fight this Act until the British Government realise that it is a penalty of family life as opposed to cutting the budget for housing benefit”, she said.
“At present there are not enough homes to meet the current homeless waiting list.”