Council house rents to soar in Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 10:45 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 21:30 26 October 2009

Cllr Mandy Perkins:

Cllr Mandy Perkins: "It's disgraceful."

COUNCIL house rents are set to soar by an average 6.7 per cent this spring. The news emerged at a meeting of Welwyn Hatfield Council's cabinet on Tuesday, where members accepted a recommendation from officers to raise rental charges. But councillors blame

Cllr Roger Trigg: "We will continue to ensure high quality of service."

COUNCIL house rents are set to soar by an average 6.7 per cent this spring.

The news emerged at a meeting of Welwyn Hatfield Council's cabinet on Tuesday, where members accepted a recommendation from officers to raise rental charges.

But councillors blame the Government's housing subsidy tax for the hike, which will affect some 10,000 council tenants when it is introduced in April.

The levy will see a total of £15,947,470 being drawn from tenants' rents and paid over to the Government during the coming financial year.

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Mandy Perkins labelled the tax "disgraceful".

Fellow cabinet member Alan Franey agreed, branding the subsidy "totally unreasonable" and a "clandestine tax on council house tenants".

And councillor Roger Trigg, executive member for housing, added: "It is a disgrace that more of this money cannot be retained by the borough to spend on improving the housing prospects of local people.

"We will continue to ensure that the quality of the Welwyn Hatfield housing service remains high and that we seek efficiencies to improve it into the future."

Following the meeting, the council released a statement, which described the rental increases as both "unavoidable" and "in line with Government guidelines".

It added: "For every £1 paid by council tenants, only around 57p can be spent on the local service, with the rest being used by the Government.

"Next year, almost £16m will go back to the Treasury from Welwyn Hatfield Council housing rents, only a proportion of which they will use to pay for housing services elsewhere."

The cabinet's recommendation will ultimately be agreed or rejected at a special meeting of the full council on February 5.

* Are you a council tenant? What do you think of the planned rises? Call our newsdesk on 01707 384180 or email whtimes@archant.co.uk

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