Councillor attacked for existing tenant 'raise rent' plan
A housing cabinet member at a London council is calling on the government to give authorities the power to raise rents for existing social tenants.
Conservative Philippa Roe, Westminster Council, said the power would enable the council to increase rent for more affluent households and use the extra cash to pay for more affordable housing.
Ms Roe said: ‘There is currently no policy in place to increase rents. However, we believe the overall system should be changed and that councils should have greater freedoms to set rents, which are currently set by central government.
‘At the moment we have a one-size fits all system which does not take into account any change in circumstances. In Westminster, we estimate that we have more than 2,200 households in social housing who are on over £50,000 a year, which is more than 95% of the working population earn.
‘We also have around 200 households who are on £100,000 a year but yet pay the same rents as pensioners, who are on low fixed incomes above the threshold for receiving benefits.
‘They have worked hard all their lives and therefore it is these people that we should be supporting and not those who do not need the degree of public support that these medium and high earners are getting.
‘By having the power to set rents, we could also then use this additional money raised to deliver more affordable housing to house the next vulnerable family.
‘What we would do in Westminster is take a look at what the person was earning and perhaps increase their rent by a small amount so they were demonstrably better off working but were paying slightly more in rent.’
The Labour group described raising rents as an ‘attack on middle-income earners’ and said it would drive hard-working families out of the borough.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group on the council, said: ‘Putting up rents is just another way for the Conservatives to increase taxes for middle earners and will push many hard-working residents out of Westminster.
‘Why are they attacking hard-working residents, the backbone of the community?’