One of the most dishonest and potentially damaging aspects of the Housing and Planning Bill is the so-called Pay to Stay. In response to an article in today’s Observer, John Marais, a council tenant from Cambridge, has written the following excellent letter to the editor.
Re. ‘Pay to Stay’ trap, (Observer 7/2/16)
Dear Sir or Madam,
Attempting to justify the raising of council rents to market levels for households earning over £30,000, or £40,000 in London, the government constantly repeats the incorrect and insulting refrain that council housing is ‘subsidising our life-styles’.
This is crude demonization. In fact, a council home normally pays for the initial investment in its building cost after 20 to 30 years, and from then on the rents provide a continuous revenue stream for many decades to come.
My council house was built in the 1950s, on council-owned land. The one previous tenant and myself have jointly paid far more in rent than its building cost, and only a fraction of my current rent is needed for its management and maintenance. So, in what way is my home subsidised?
Council rents are cheaper simply because no private landlords are making a profit from our housing provision and that is what the government resents, for ideological reasons. They want to force us into the desperate jungle of exorbitant private renting or unsustainable sub-prime mortgages. Opposition to this and other attacks on social housing must continue. Housing need in a civilised society ought not to be ruled by the dictates of profiteers and their political mouth-pieces in parliament.
Yours Sincerely, John Marais (Tenant Rep, Cambridge City Council Housing Scrutiny Committee)
The Observer/Guardian article is here:
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