The Times reports (£) that details will be published today of rent rises for Council tenants earning over £60,000 a year. All credit to Westminster City Council who have been pushing for this for over a year.
The report says:
Tenants including Bob Crow, the RMT union general-secretary, who earns £145,000 a year, pay about 50 per cent of the market rate. Until this year they have also been able to keep a home for life and pass it down through generations. Under today’s consultation paper, couples on a salary of £30,000 each could see their rent rise by £70 a week on average. But the document will also suggest different income caps of £80,000 and £100,000 for households in council property.
The higher caps will affect far fewer people — 6,000 people earning more than £100,000 live in council homes compared with 34,000 tenants earning more than £60,000.
My own council of Hammersmith and Fulham is already consulting on a new housing allocations policy that would mean those earning more than £40,200 will not be eligible to become council tenants.
But what of those who are already council tenants? That is what today's proposals are about. The details are important. It makes sense for the rent subsidy to fall gradually to avoid a situation where those who have a £1,000 pay rise find themselves worse off as a result of £6,000 rent rise.
The headline in The Times says they "face eviction." I suppose they would if they didn't pay their rent just as anyone else would. But they would be able to afford to pay it. I would hope most would choose to stay. It is good for council estates to be mixed communities, not just the poor. Some of those facing higher rents might exercise the right to buy. Others would choose to pay up – their increased rent meaning more finance to provide housing for others. Certainly some would choose to leave and thus free up the homes for those who need them.
All those choices are reasonable.
What is quite unreasonable is the current arrangement where someone earning £25,000 and paying full market rent on a private property also pays their tax for someone earning £100,000 to have a subsidised rent.