Tories forced into major climbdown on rent hike

Conservative Barnet Council have today published details of a major policy climbdown on their proposal to hike up council rents to up to 80% of average open market rents.

The new proposals will instead mean existing council tenants see a rent increase to target rents, new 5 year flexible tenancy rents would be increased to 50% of market rents - up from 30%, and new council tenants moving into empty council homes or newly built council homes will be charged up to 65% of market rents for lifetime tenancies.

The climbdown follows a strong campaign against the 80% rent hike led by Barnet's Labour councillors, Andrew Dismore AM and local Labour parliamentary candidates Amy Trevethan and Sarah Sackman, who warned that the rent hike would cause misery to thousands of tenants on very low incomes, would add millions of pounds to the housing benefit bill and may be unlawful.

In the published reports the council admit that the proposed rent hike to 80% of market rents would have "significantly impacted" tenants. The new proposals will be discussed at the Housing Committee on 29 June.

Labour's Housing Spokesperson, Cllr Ross Houston: "This is an embarrasing major climbdown from the Tories on a policy they were hellbent on implementing and seemed confident would be allowable under the law. 

"The council report makes clear that they have finally admitted people would not be able to afford the massive rent increase that was proposed, and most likely they have been told it would have been unlawful.

"The proposals still mean a rent increase in one go for existing tenants that is well above inflation which the council readily admit will result in more tenants falling into rent arrears and debt, and so we will be encouraging as many council tenants as possible to respond to the consultation on the new proposals so their voice is heard.

"We'll be discussing the proposals at the Housing Committee on the 29 June where we can scrutinise the new policy in more detail."

Ends. 

Notes: 
1. A copy of the published rent policy reports can be found here:

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=699&MId=8264&Ver=4

2. For more coverage of the rent hike issue see:

http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/tories_rent_policy_could_add_millions_to_housing_benefit_bill

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For further details please contact:
Cllr Ross Houston: cllr.r.houston@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

 

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