Housing professionals criticise ‘pay to stay’ policy

Housing experts have denounced the government’s ‘pay to stay’ policy, claiming forcing social housing tenants with higher incomes to pay more in rent will discourage them from increasing their earnings.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) conducted a survey in which 62 per cent of its members affirmed they disagreed with the policy.

The regulations mean social housing tenants in England with a household income of £30,000 or more (£40,000 in London) will have to pay higher rents.

The survey found that 77 per cent of respondents feared the policy was likely to discourage tenants from increasing their earnings. In addition, more than half claimed it would discourage them from finding work, while 73 per cent said it would damage relationships between tenants and landlords.

Four out of five said it would increase the number opting to buy their property when the right to buy scheme is extended to housing associations.

Terrie Alafat, CIH chief executive, said: “Like us, our members clearly have grave concerns about pay to stay. There is the risk that it will discourage tenants from finding work or increasing their earnings, and also that it will push people into housing benefit entitlement.

“Ultimately, you simply cannot class a household with an income of £30,000 as ‘high income’. A single person with no children might seem relatively well off, but what about a couple who both earn £15,000 and have three children?”

Alafat continued to outline blurred areas where the system might face particular criticism. She pointed out that based on the current minimum wage of £7.20 per hour, a household with two earners working a 40 hour week will earn £29,952 per year, meaning they just escape the threshold of £30,000.

She said: “It must be contradictory for a household to be on the statutory minimum wage and also less than £50 away from being classified as a high earner for housing policy purposes.