West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has received assurances from the Minister for Housing that West Lancashire Borough Council would not lose out by bringing in a reduction in the rent increase for council tenants this year
Rosie has called on West Lancashire Borough Council to provide real help now for council tenants in the borough by cutting the council rent increase in half for the next year.
Local authorities have been given the option by the Government to halve the proposed annual rent increase for the next financial year in light of the current economic situation to put some money back in the pockets of council tenants. However, West Lancashire Borough Council has expressed some concerns that it may lose money by bringing in the lower increase in rent.
Rosie met with local housing officials to discuss the situation and took their concerns to the Minister for Housing. In her response to Rosie’s Parliamentary Question asking for assurances that West Lancashire Borough Council would not lose out, the Minister for Housing said:
“Certainly I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. I know that she has been anxious and extremely active on behalf of her constituency and local authority. We believe that there is actually some misunderstanding on the part of the authority about the implications of the change for it… It is no part of our intention that any local authority will be disadvantaged by making the change (to the lower rent increase).”
“In the current economic circumstances it is essential that Government is taking the necessary action to ensure tenants get a fair and affordable deal. This new money from the Government to subsidise lower rent increases is a substantial offer of help for council tenants."
”I’ve been pushing the local authority to implement this rent reduction for the past couple of months and I strongly urge them to bring it in immediately. The additional money will make a real difference to our council tenants."
“I have taken up the issue with the Secretary of State and with local housing officials and will continue to work with all agencies to get the best deal for local tenants."
“Only West Lancashire Borough Council could whinge about a rent reduction for their tenants. They need to reassess their position immediately."
“Our tenants can’t afford the council to refuse this help.”
The planned rent increase for council tenants for 2009/10 was set at 6.2% but this was calculated before a dramatic fall in the RPI (Retail Price Index), which is used to set average guideline rent increases. New guidance from the Department for Communities & Local Government means that local authorities have been offered the option of increasing rent by only 3.1% for the year.