ALMOST 4,000 social housing tenants were in rent arrears for more than 13 weeks in Gwent last year, according to figures published by Welsh Government and StatsWales.

The number and percent of all social housing tenancies in rent arrears in Wales fell between 2008/9 and 2011/12, but the number went up last year, while the percentage remained at 32 per cent.

The percentage of tenancies in rent arrears for 13 weeks or more remained unchanged at two per cent.

In Blaenau Gwent that meant 377 households; in Caerphilly 241; in Monmouthshire 127; in Newport 186 social housing tenancies; and 197 in Torfaen, a total of 3,736 in Gwent.

Some 66,081 socially rented households in Gwent were in rent arrears for less than 13 weeks.

As of March 31 last year in Wales, 4,381 social housing units (1.9 per cent of all social housing stock) were vacant, up 12 per cent from the previous year.

Housing units vacant for more than six months went up by 30 per cent compared to the end of March 2012.

As a result 32 per cent of all vacant social housing had been empty for more than six months at March 31, 2013.

New lettings of social housing stock, which had been falling since 2009/10, increased slightly during 2012/13 to 21,494 new lettings. Half continued to be through housing waiting lists, with a further 17 per cent going to priority homeless households.