Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 15, 2016

Portfolio Holder For Housing Disgusted At Government Pay To Stay Scheme

Will the Government’s “shambolic record on housing” continue to hurt those most in need with the “Pay to Stay” scheme likely to be introduced from April 2017? Under this plan, any council household with an income of £31,000 or more will be forced to pay market rents. So what’s wrong with that, you ask?

Cllr Jenny Patterson Portfolio Holder for Housing jenny-patterson says “Once again this Conservative Government is forcing through policies with minimal publicity that will undeniably hurt the most vulnerable in our society. Whilst £31,000 might sound like a fairly reasonable income, when you consider that this might be a sole income for a household with 2, 3, 4, or more children to provide for it soon shows itself as the tax on working classes that it is.

“The Tories will never believe in Council Housing. Policies such as this will force people into private rental properties, making people who abuse the “Buy to Let” system gradually richer. This leaves those who aren’t in a position to obtain a mortgage further away from financial stability. What the Government should be doing is helping local councils provide more houses for tenants. Here at West Lancashire we have a waiting list of over 2,500 people so there is a clear demand.

“As is becoming the norm, this plan is being hurried through with very little early guidance available to local councils. More and more pressure is being heaped on housing departments and council tenants. West Lancashire Borough Council will endeavour to assist our tenants at every opportunity. We anticipate that around 1,700 tenants will be affected.”

But the penalty for WLBC will be that any monies collected in addition to council rents will not be retained by the authority but will be passed on to central government. The facts of the scheme are: Anyone with a household income of £31,000 or more will be affected; There is no exemption for pensioners; The income of tenants/joint tenants and their spouses or partners will be used in the calculation; Child Benefit, DLA and Tax Credits will not count as income.

The scheme was brought in by then chancellor Osborne as “contributing to deficit reduction”. The Government has confirmed that a taper will be applied above the minimum income thresholds and that households in receipt of Housing Benefit will be exempt from paying higher rents. The taper will operate so that affected households will pay an additional 15p in rent per week for every £1 they receive in taxable income above the thresholds. Councils will not be able to invest it in improving homes or building new housing. With 2,500 people on its waiting list WLBC needs to keep this tax and build more homes. And people affected will probably be told at Christmas of rent rises next April. In a Christmas card?

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