Hot on the heels of Housing Minister Margaret Beckett’s unexpected announcement of extra funding for local authorities to reduce Council House rent rises, Liberal Democrat councillors in Luton have called for urgent action to reduce the 5% rent rise the Labour Council agreed only three weeks ago.
Liberal Democrat Housing spokesman, Councillor Alan Skepelhorn has contacted the Council Chief Executive and asked him to produce an urgent report for the Council’s Executive inviting them to reduce the rent rise agreed at the Budget Council meeting on 18th February.
“We said at the time it was outrageous to impose a 5% rent increase when inflation is less than 1%,” says Liberal Democrat councillor Alan Skepelhorn. “The Labour controlled Council completely ignored the fact that whilst those on the very lowest incomes have their rent paid through benefits and many higher income families can afford an increase, the real hardship is landed on those at the margin with incomes only just high enough to disqualify them from benefits.”
“This is an unexpected opportunity which they should not turn away. It is very unfair that families in low paid employment always seem to suffer most. Even if the Council does agree to our suggested reduction it is likely rents will still rise by around 3% or three times the rate of inflation.”