COMMENT: Government imposed rent drop is ridiculous
Let’s get this straight. Portsmouth City Council has been forced to approve ridiculous council house rent reductions which will leave most tenants better off by less than a pound – but mean a hit on council coffers of at least £2.5m a year.
The rule was imposed by government so, although it was put to Portsmouth City Council to ‘approve’, they had no choice.
Essentially, this is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, that, in the long-run, will leave council tenants worse off.
It will mean the average social rent in the city will be £84.58 per week, down from £85.24.
What could you do with that 66 pence? Maybe four extra Kit Kats a month? One more pint of milk each week?
The reduction in rent was probably met with a guffaw when the letters went out to tell tenants the news. Let’s face it, it most likely cost that for postage.
The government introduced the policy in 2016 and the council will have to abide by it until 2020.
What this ill-conceived – but no doubt well-meaning – policy means in reality for the council house tenants of Portsmouth is that there is less money in the pot to maintain and improve the housing stock.
And come 2020, there is every likelihood that Portsmouth City Council will have to make up the difference by increasing rents – which will come as a blow for those paying the bills.
Over three years, the council has lost a potential £7m which could have gone on repairs for ageing buildings, and ensuring better homes for people.
Portsmouth’s head of housing, Councillor Darren Saunders says: ‘It was one of those plans that when it was announced local authorities everywhere said “what are you doing?”.’
What the city needs is good quality housing stock that is fit for people to live in.
The rent reduction is derisory, but, collectively, the impact will be felt across the city.