Barnet’s Conservative councillors have refused to back down from their plan to charge an extra £100 a week on rents for new build council homes and re-let council homes being transferred to Open Door Homes (ODH) – the Council’s housing development company. The plan will mean council tenants in new and re-let homes owned by ODH will have to pay £209 a week for a 2-bedroom home compared with £109 a week currently charged for a council home.
Labour councillors tried to amend the rent policy of charging 65% of market rates for new council homes in Barnet’s draft Housing Strategy at this week’s Housing Committee (1 April), but the Conservatives voted against this. Labour’s proposal would have meant council rents would not exceed 50% of market rates, which is in line with the Mayor of London’s affordable rent policy.
In the Labour Group’s submission to the draft Housing Strategy consultation, Labour’s Lead on Housing – Cllr Paul Edwards said: “Barnet Homes (Open Door) is a social landlord and should be providing social rent homes at rates in line with the Mayor’s plan. So, the rent should be no more than 50% of market rates, which is a more socially just rent to ask for than 65% and is in line with the Mayor’s plan.
“The high 65% social rent is the main reason Barnet Council were not able to secure more grant from the GLA – why would the Mayor invest in building new social rent homes that are not going to be affordable to those on low incomes?”
Cllr Edwards also criticised the lack of ambition to deliver more affordable homes across all development, and called for the affordable homes target to be increased from 40% of all new homes to 50% The Conservatives voted against this as well.