Portsmouth Labour's warning over council housing changes

THE deputy of Portsmouth's Labour group has welcomed calls for ministers to rethink a new policy which will require councils to charge some tenants higher rents.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 6:00 am

The Local Government Association, a national body which supports local government, wants changes to the ‘Pay to Stay’ scheme.

Research reveals more than 70,000 social housing tenants could face rent rise bills of an average of £1,000 a year from next year under plans to increase rents for those deemed to be earning high incomes.

Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour’s housing spokesman, is concerned.

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He said: ‘It is clear that the impact of this policy would cause stress to families, further administrative costs to councils and far lower financial returns to government than originally forecast. The LGA also argues that the complexities of setting up the new system make it impossible to implement the change from April 2017. The policy has not been thought through properly.’

Cllr Morgan said councils across the country would need to invest millions in new IT systems, hire new staff and write to more than 1m social housing tenants to obtain information on household income and approve individual tenant bills by January.

This is expected to be a difficult and costly for councils, he says, and is likely to be unpopular with tenants and result in a high level of costly appeals. Under Pay to Stay, high income social tenants are defined as households with incomes above £31,000 – a higher threshold will exist in London.