Onchan hits back at rent arrears figure

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ONCHAN Commissioners have hit back at a claim made in the House of Keys that housing arrears for the authority were £46,000.

Chris Robertshaw, the minister for Social Care, gave the figure in answer to a question from Onchan MHK David Quirk.

Onchan Commissioners’ lead member for finance, John Quaye said: ‘No-one approached the commissioners directly to ascertain the true position. The arrears quoted may be factually correct for that week, however a week later the balance was £26,000, because two of the monthly direct debit payment dates fell in the following week. The effect of the monthly direct debits and other staged payments mean that the level of arrears fluctuates but most of the “arrears” are managed by the commissioners’ staff and are paid under agreement.”

The commissioners said they were pleased to see that Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw understood that the timing of the report meant the figures did not show the whole picture.

‘The level of arrears not cleared monthly are approximately £18,000, including rates and other charges,’ said Mr Quaye. ‘This is 0.9 per cent of the annual rent. Of this figure, approximately £10,000 is controlled debt where the debtor is repaying arrears to an agreed plan. We seek to work closely with our tenants.’

The authority will shortly be meeting with Mr Robertshaw and one of the points to be discussed is the payment of rents directly from housing benefits.

According to Mr Robertshaw’s figures, Douglas owed £58,033; Port Erin £12,978; Ramsey £12,856 and Peel £9,229.

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