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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Is it time to scrap national policy for local council housing.

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6:53am 28th January 2011

Liberal Democrat Councillors have called on the Government to take action to speed up the scrapping of a policy introduced by the Labour Government, which has led to Council tenants facing a 6% rise in their rent in April.

The formula introduced by the Labour Government to calculate Council house rents was aimed at bringing Council house rents into line across the country, so similar properties should be charged similar rents by 2012 regardless of whether they are owned by Council of Housing Associations.

Under the current Housing Revenue Account (HRA) system York is also forced to send more than £5m a year of rent collected locally to other Councils to subsidise their Council Houses. Money which could be used for improvements to homes in York, such as replacing windows.

The Coalition Government has announced it plans to reform the HRA to allow Councils to keep rent collected locally and to have more say over local rent levels. However, the legislation to make the changes wont be in place to prevent the existing formula being used to calculate rents for 2011/12.

Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing, Councillor Ann Reid said:

" If the Government couldn’t make the changes in time, they should consider implementing a cap on rent increases".

 “We have fought the excessive increases imposed on us over previous years by the Labour Government and we will continue to fight until the system is changed.”

“Our residents are seeing wages frozen or falling, they simply cant afford another big increase in their rent. I understand that the Government wont want to rush through changes to the HRA but they should at least consider a cap on the increase so it does not exceed inflation.”

Councillor Reid said Government Ministers had been contacted about the planned rent increases.

She said:

“We have raised this issue with Government Ministers and are pressing for them to take action as soon as possible.”

“The end is in sight for Labour’s unfair system, but we do need action now to ensure residents don’t face excessive rent increases while the changes are applied.”

Residents who currently have their rent paid through housing benefit would continue to have their rent covered by the benefit and so would be unaffected by the change.

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