Kingston’s Executive Member for Housing has spoken out against the Government’s formula for setting local authority housing rents. Cllr Penny Shelton says that an inaccurate calculation of this year’s inflation rate will mean arbitrary hikes in the amount paid by council property tenants in the borough.
Cllr Shelton explained: “Because of the way that Government has calculated the rent formula for local authorities, the average council housing tenant in Kingston will be wrongly paying an additional £5 in rent a week for this forthcoming year.”
She continued: “The Government is taking an enormous amount of money from people on the lowest incomes. It is unjust, and particularly scandalous during a recession when many tenants will be struggling to make ends meet.”
Council tenants across London are facing an annual rent increase of up to 9% because of a government formula which used the Retail Price Index figure from September 2008, when it was at its peak. From April, Kingston council tenants will face a 5.7% increase in their rent bill, despite the current rate of inflation being just 3.1% - an rate that is set to plummet further throughout the year.
“I have joined a London-wide campaign calling on the Housing Minister Margaret Beckett to re-calculate rent increases at a fairer rate. It is abominable that the poorest residents in Kingston will be paying for a rent hike at almost the double the level of current inflation” said Cllr Shelton.
“In addition, these extraordinary rent increases will be applied to some tenants who are living in properties in a state of disrepair. The Council simply does not have access to enough money in its Housing Revenue Account to do the repairs and improvements necessary to keep our housing stock in a good condition.”
“The Council Housing system in the UK has been unfair for decades –and this latest set of rent increases will be an insult to many thousands of low-income people living in the borough.”