A decision by the Government to drop plans for tenants on higher than average incomes to pay more rent has been welcomed by Southwark Liberal Democrats.
The Conservative ‘Pay-to-Stay’ proposals aimed to make all council and housing association tenants with a household income above £40,000 pay a higher rent similar to private sector rent levels.
The plan proved hugely controversial with housing campaigners, and opposition parties united to fight the plans in Parliament. Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords tabled several successful amendments to make the legislation fairer. Local councillors and campaigners have been fighting alongside Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords to oppose the Government's Housing and Planning Act.
‘Pay-to-Stay’ for higher income tenants was due to take effect from April 2017. Following David Cameron’s resignation though, the new government has been reviewing the Housing & Planning Act’s regulations and announced this week that the ‘Pay-to-Stay’ proposals would no longer be compulsory for councils.
Other measures in the Act which will have a huge impact on Southwark tenants are still scheduled to go ahead though. These include an end to secure tenancies for social housing tenants, forcing councils to sell off high-value homes and give the money to the Government, and extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants. Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors met this week with the Party’s Housing Spokesperson, Lord John Shipley, to keep up the pressure on the Government to drop or amend these controversial measures.
Southwark’s Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Ben Johnson, said:
“Liberal Democrats are pleased that the Government finally accepted that councils should not be forced to bring in ‘Pay-to-Stay’ proposals. This will be a huge relief to households across Southwark.
“Making ‘Pay-to-Stay’ compulsory would have affected thousands of tenants in the borough. The Council would have needed to invest millions in new IT systems, hire new staff and snoop on tenants’ income levels.
"Liberal Democrats have been working hard to make the Government understand how difficult, lengthy and costly the policy would have been. It would also have caused huge stress for Southwark tenants. ‘Pay-to-Stay’ will now be optional for local authorities and we will be pushing the Council to opt out of this unworkable policy.
“We will continue to fight residents’ corner on other controversial policies though, such as extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants, new ‘starter homes’ and forcing councils to sell off their high-value stock.”