Lib Dems join tenants to fight government over high rents

January 27, 2009 9:44 AM
Catherine Smart

Cllr Catherine Smart - fighting the government over high rents

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have joined forces with council tenants to fight government policy which has forced rents to stay higher than the rate of inflation.

Labour's formula for setting council house rents uses September's inflation figure of 5.8 per cent compared to just 1.2 per cent at the end of last month.

This combined with a massive subsidy of more than £11.5 million that Cambridge City Council must pay to the government to repair council houses in deprived areas of the country, has made it impossible to bring down rents.

Liberal Democrats argue that they would like to give tenants a rent freeze but can't afford to because they would be left with too little in the coffers to run the landlord services.

Now executive councillor for housing, Catherine Smart is to join forces with the council's Housing Management Board - which includes tenant representatives - to fight for a fairer deal.

Cllr Smart and the chairman and vice-chairman of the board will jointly sign a letter to Communities and Local Government, which sets local government policy, calling for change.

She said: "I completely sympathise with our tenants who are facing financial hardship in this difficult economic climate but we are powerless to help. I wish we could have a rent freeze this year but government policies make this impossible.

"We are told that we must set rents at the September inflation figure plus 0.5 per cent. The huge subsidy we are paying under the Housing Revenue Account increased by more than £21,000 this year and is expected to go up again. Without a change of heart from the government, our hands are tied."

CONTACT: Cllr Catherine Smart - 07531 800495

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