Housing organisations call for Pay-to-Stay rethink

Housing organisation Tpas and SHOUT have called on the government to change its plans to charge households in council homes earning £30,000 per year in unaffordable market rents.

Part of the Housing Bill, the Pay-to-Stay proposal, will see households with incomes as low as £30,000 being forced to pay expensive market market rates. Taps and SHOUT have published a report arguing that the policy will punish the less well-off residents and increase welfare dependency.

The report claims Pay-to-Stay would also be an administrative nightmare, breaching taxpayer confidentiality and potentially embroiling tenants and landlords in complex and intrusive bureaucracy. Tpas and SHOUT caution that the proposal could involve handing over confidential HMRC data on tenants’ salaries to councils, housing associations and even private companies.

Lord Kerslake, along with other housing experts have put forward amendments to grant councils more authority to decide whether it should implement Pay-to-Stay. The recommendations also include proposals to raise the suggested income limits from £30,000 to £40,000 per year (£50,000 in London), and to stop the government taking more than 10p in extra rent for every extra pound of income.

Jenny Osbourne, Tpas chief executive, said: “The government should listen to tenants and housing experts and drop this unfair tax on aspiration and hard work.

“Council tenants who work hard, get on in life and are already paying their full rent shouldn’t be punished with swingeing rent increases or be forced out of their homes.”

Alison Inman, SHOUT leading campaigner, said: “I hope that, having listened to the arguments of all parties on other aspects of the Bill this week, the government will also agree to make the kinds of changes being suggested by Bob Kerslake and other distinguished peers and agree to the very sensible changes they are proposing, if it can’t see its way to dropping this mistaken idea altogether.”