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Southwark Labour continue to challenge Housing and Planning Act


07 September 2016
Southwark Labour’s housing lead has called for the Government not to force councils to collect income information on tenants under the new Pay to Stay policy.

The policy, contained in the Housing and Planning Act, would force councils to means test council tenants and charge those earning over £40,000 a higher rent, with all the additional money going straight to the Treasury instead of local services. 

Local authorities do not means test tenants but instead assess housing need, which can cover a range of requirements including age and disability. Southwark’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Stephanie Cryan has written to Housing Minister Gavin Barwell MP to ask that the Government use its own tax office to pick up the bureaucracy Pay to Stay will generate. Cllr Cryan has argued that collecting income information on all council tenants would be a huge burden for the local authority, at a time when budgets are already stretched to capacity.

Southwark Labour councillors oppose the Pay to Stay policy because it will hike up rents for working families earning an average income. They have argued that the threshold of £40,000 household income, which in London is the equivalent of a couple working full time and earning an average wage, is too low.

Cllr Cryan said: “The Tory Housing and Planning Act is an assault on social housing and we will are completely opposed to the Pay to Stay policy, which will introduce huge rent hikes for council tenants with the money going straight to central Government. 

“I have written to the Housing Minister to demand that the Government collects the information required to implement this policy itself, instead of forcing local authorities to means-test our tenants.
“Means testing council tenants could cost local authorities millions in administrative costs and prove nothing more than we already know – that people can either pay their rent or they cannot. We will continue to fight the Tory’s attempts to destroy social housing and do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable residents.”



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