Camden Green Party says: Cap the rent rise
23 January 2012
Camden's Labour Cabinet has voted to raise Council rents by 8.1% - considerably over the rate of inflation which is not much more than 4% (Consumer Price Index).
Earnings have however increased by very little in the past year, and pensions have increased only by CPI.
This rise will squeeze low income households, particularly coming on top of a substantial increase in fuel bills - expected to be at 14% this year for Camden Council households - and rises in food prices and other necessities over the past year.
This rent rise was pushed through despite the consultation exercise with the District Management Committees concluding that rent rises should be avoided. All of these representative committees (except for Holborn) voted against the rise. Some supported other rises such as car parking charges, and Hampstead asked for consideration of options.
Despite this, the rent rise went ahead and the right to challenge this through scrutiny was withdrawn.
Though an Equalities Impact Assessment was carried out, in respect of that group most severely affected, which is tenants not claiming housing benefit, the statement said this assessment could not be done because of lack of data.
Camden Green Party is concerned about the lack of consideration of alternatives, which could include a stronger focus on getting value for money from housing maintenance contractors - which may require a beefing up of council staff who manage repairs.
We are also concerned about the failure to investigate the impact on vulnerable households including pensioners some of which will not want to be forced to claim housing benefit.
Cllr Maya de Souza said: "These are very difficult times for low income households, with food and fuel prices rising hugely. The administration's failure to carry out a proper assessment on the impact of vulnerable groups such as pensioners is disappointing.
"And as the decision has been exempted from scrutiny the usual right to challenge has been lost.
"The Council should have scoped out some options, as asked for by Hampstead DMC, looking at increases in other charges such as parking charges as well cutting costs.
"Camden Green Party calls for the 8.1% rise to be withdrawn and capped at the rate of inflation. Otherwise we see the Council embarking down the slippery slope of bringing Council rents over time towards the 80% market rate that the Localism Act allows for. This is unaffordable for a vast number of working Council tenants."