HOUSING ORGANISATIONS SAY MINISTERS SHOULD THINK AGAIN ABOUT UNFAIR RENT HIKES FOR HARD-WORKING COUNCIL TENANTS
As the Government’s Housing Bill approaches the next stage in its bumpy ride through the House of Lords, tenant and housing campaigners have called on Ministers to drop proposals (labelled “Pay to Stay”) announced in George Osborne’s 2015 Budget to charge unaffordable market rents to households in council homes earning as little as £30,000 a year. They have published a report using tenants’ own words to explain why the policy is wrong.
The full report can be read by clicking on this link.
Tenant representative organisation TPAS and housing campaign SHOUT point out in the document that the proposal could well affect households who are not well off (for example two people earning just over the national living wage), and flies in the face of the Government’s aims of encouraging aspiration and reducing welfare dependency.
It would punish people for getting on in life, and increase dependency on welfare. It would also be an administrative nightmare and breach of taxpayer confidentiality, embroiling tenants and landlords in complex and intrusive bureaucracy. In a little-noticed clause in the Bill, the Government proposes to hand over confidential HMRC data on tenants’ incomes to councils, housing associations and even private companies like Capita.
After defeating the Government in three votes on the Bill this week, and forcing it into concessions on other issues, peers look set to challenge Pay to Stay as well. Former Civil Service chief and housing expert Lord Kerslake and others have put down amendments which would leave it up to councils whether or not to implement the policy, raise the proposed income limits to £40,000 a year (£50,000 a year in London) and stop the government taking more than 10p in extra rent for every extra pound of income.
TPAS Chief Executive Jenny Osbourne said:
“The Government should listen to tenants and housing experts and drop this unfair tax on aspiration and hard work. Council tenants who work hard, get on in life and are already paying their full rent shouldn’t be punished with swingeing rent increases or be forced out of their homes.”
SHOUT leading campaigner Alison Inman said:
“I hope that, having listened to the arguments of all parties on other aspects of the Bill this week, the Government will also agree to make the kinds of changes being suggested by Bob Kerslake and other distinguished peers and agree to the very sensible changes they are proposing, if it can’t see its way to dropping this mistaken idea altogether.”