Environment minister James Clappison said:
'It is encouraging to see the downward trend of recent years continue. I hope authorities will keep up their efforts to bring down arrears and to collect rents. Those with substantial arrears must do more.
'I am pleased that authorities have reacted in a positive way to government encouragement to cut rent arrears. We issued good practice guidance to local authorities at the end of 1994, and it seems the advice on the prevention of arrears and the management of rent arrears cases has been put to good use. Nevertheless, rent arrears are still widespread, and it remains essential that authorities continue to give high priority to this issue.
'The 1995 figures continue the downward trend of recent years. While arrears as a percentage of rent roll rose steadily between 1987 and 1991, from 5.1 per cent to 8.6 per cent, they have now fallen for the past four years. I want to see the figures continue to come down.
'This year we are also publishing a table showing rent collection rates, which are an effective measure of current performance. This shows the proportion of the year's rent which has been collected by the end of the year (excluding payments of arrears from previous years).'
-- The data are based on information provided by local authorities on housing subsidy claim forms. The majority of the data comes from the Second Advance Claim forms for 1995/96. There are differences in authorities' policies in dealing with rent arrears, for example in relation to writing-off arrears as irrecoverable, which can affect the comparability of data submitted. The figures for cumulative rent arrears in March 1994 have been revised slightly as a result of revisions to some figures provided since they were issued in November 1994.