Time to Change Housing Rent Policy?
As thousands of people across Northampton and the Country struggle to come to terms with not being able to afford the deposit to buy their own homes, or with the rents being charged in the private sector at a time when the country is in the longest double dip recession for over 60 years it is time for the Government to commit not only to building social housing (council housing) but also the level of rents being charged.
Tenants whether in the private sector, housing association or council housing need to be able to maintain a roof over the heads of their families at the same time as being faced with a fall in their incomes and rising prices.
The current Government policy that insists that the rate of Council House rents has to increase above those of Housing Associations to bring about a convergence of rents by 2019 impacts disproportionately on Council Tenants.
This year the increase for Northampton Council Tenants was between £7 and £9 a week which at a time of recession has really put whole families in a difficult financial position and especially those who will have seen their rent increases being anywhere between 3% and 7% of their weekly income.
What the Government should now do is cancel the ‘convergence’ policy and allow Northampton Borough Council to set the level of rent increases at an affordable level based on local knowledge of the wages paid in the area.
Of course the problem is that the Borough Council Conservative leadership are determined to transfer all of the Council Tenants to a Housing Association and have already committed to spending £2 million to persuade tenants that it is in their interest to transfer.
What they won’t be saying is that the ‘convergence’ may happen all at once, at a single stroke if the houses are transferred which would see an increase in rents of between £10 and £15 a week.
At the moment of course the Borough Council can blame the high increases in rent on the Governments policy which is why they won’t rush to seek a change that would put them firmly in the line of fire as the deciding body on the levels of rents to set.
It is what some refer to as ‘avoidance of responsibility’ the sorry, not our fault or as someone once wrote the art of ‘non-decision making’ which we are seeing perfected at both the County and Borough Halls.