In his rush to defend the decision of Chesterfield Council to hike up council rents (DT, Feb23rd) its leader Cllr John Burrows tries to blame the Government, claiming that “Council houses HAVE to be increased to the same level as Housing Association rents for similar properties year on year”.
Quite simply this is not true. There is no law requiring councils to put up rents to meet the Government’s wishes. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what the ex-minister Margaret Beckett said in a written Statement to the House of Commons in March 2009.
“Each autumn, after consultation, the Government publishes formal guideline rents so that Local Authorities know where they stand on Government subsidy on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) system. Authorities are then free to make their own decisions on the actual rent level to set in their particular circumstances. Many authorities set actual rents below the guideline figure”.
Across the country many other authorities of all political persuasions have listened to their tenants and capped these excessive rent increases.
With council wages frozen for two years and lots of local builders looking for work, there is no reason why repair costs should be rising by anything like 8%.
The Campaign to Defend Council Housing is calling on MPs to back its emergency statement to fight these increases and I urge all readers to get every MP in Derbyshire to sign-up and defeat a move which force more families into dependency on benefits.
CLLR DUNCAN KERR