Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Council Tenants deserve better

One of the results of the Gr-In group split last month was that I have just been appointed to the Housing Management Board at the City Council. I have long been interested in housing issues, and look forward to scrutinising why the Council is struggling to repair the Davy Road fences, or replace some ancient kitchens and bathrooms in the properties it owns.

Part of the problem is a particularly damaging way in which the Government treats tenants in Cambridge - it basically confiscates a large part of the rent paid in Cambridge, for no particularly good reason as far as I can tell. So I've decided to write to the newly appointed housing minister to ask him to look into this - I'll let you know when I get a response...

To  Rt Hon John Healey MP

Dear Mr Healey

Firstly many congratulations on your appointment as housing minister. This is a very important and often neglected area of policy that has a profound effect on everyone’s lives.

I am a Cambridge City Councillor and have just been appointed to the Housing Management Board – the committee that looks at the management of the Council’s own stock. 

The first meeting I will be attending next week reports the outturn of the housing revenue account budget for 08/09. Out of £27.1m of rents collected, there appears to be an expenditure of £11.9m classified as ‘negative subsidy’. 

As I understand it, this is simply the government stealing a very large part of the rents collected from Cambridge City Council’s tenants, so that it can’t be spent in Cambridge. How can this possibly be ‘fair’? Why do you think it is reasonable to take all this money? What do you do with the money taken from Cambridge Council tenants? Can you please use your powers as minister to stop this immediately? - I have numerous queries where works can’t be undertaken on properties or estates due to lack of money, and I dare say the huge sums being taken each year by the government aren't helping,

I look forward to your response,
Cllr Chris Howell


Richard Taylor said...

It appears that Cllr Howell's letter has, along with lobbying by others, succeeded in changing government policy.

Ministers are now being increasingly clear about their intent to allow councils to keep their own council house revenue for reinvesting locally.

Chris Howell said...

Thanks for that link Richard - I haven't had a reply to my letter - I should chase it up!