Greenwich Labour decide wealthy should be able to stay in Council housing

In a response to government proposals to force wealthy Council tenants to either pay market rents or move, Greenwich’s Labour Council has argued that high earners should not be forced to pay proper rents as it will reduce their disposable income. 

In a formal response to the Coalition Government’s consultation on its ‘Pay to Stay’ proposals, Cabinet Member Steve Offord opposed the scheme giving six reasons including the completely contradictory statements that the scheme will:

  • Encourage high earners to leave a community (which will be detrimental to sustaining mixed communities).
  • “Reduce the ability of high earners to save a deposit and enter the home ownership market by reducing their disposable income.”

The Pay to Stay proposals suggested that Council tenants on high salaries would be asked to pay a fair level of rent for the privilege of living in a social home.  The level of income suggested as a high salary was between £60,000 and £100,000 but Greenwich Council’s response made no attempt to address whether residents earning this sort of money deserved the lower rents enjoyed by Council tenants.

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “I am deeply disappointed that Greenwich’s Labour Council has once again let down our residents by failing to make a proper response to the Government’s plans.   It seems to me only right that individuals earning in excess of £60,000pa should pay a proper rent if they choose to live in Council housing.  I can see no reason why the rest of us should pay more tax allowing well-off people to enjoy a lower rent.  Many families on much lower incomes struggle to pay mortgages or rent in the private sector but Labour seems content to keep subsidising these wealthy individuals.”

“This attitude means that Greenwich residents on a waiting list for their own home will have to wait longer while wealthy individuals continue to enjoy unjustifiably cheap housing.  Once again Conservative proposals to benefit poorer local residents are being rejected on purely partisan political grounds rather than what is good for the residents of the borough.”

Toni Hale, who lives in Charlton, said “I am a Council tenant and would welcome higher earners paying the going rate for rent even if they are in council housing.  I would hope if I was earning this amount, I would decide to buy my home and still enjoy living in the community where I reside. People who are on a lower income struggling in private accommodation do not get any of these benefits of a lower rent, then why should higher earners in Council properties?”