Call for debate is right on cue

PUBLISHED: 10:56 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:48 11 May 2010

AS chairman of SCAT (South Cambs Against Transfer) one of the most frequent complaints I hear from council tenants concerns the biased nature of the outpourings, in favour of the privatisation of our housing, of the so-called independent tenant advisers

AS chairman of SCAT (South Cambs Against Transfer) one of the most frequent complaints I hear from council tenants concerns the biased nature of the outpourings, in favour of the privatisation of our housing, of the so-called "independent tenant advisers".

Right on cue, Dr Steve Sharples writes (Postbag, July 2) pleading for a debate based on "an accurate analysis of the facts" - then misleads with just the opposite.

He claims that council and housing association rents "will be the same for similar properties in similar areas by 2012".

The truth is that the Government policy of artificially forcing council rents up to the level of housing associations has already been put back to 2016-17 and most people in the housing sector do not believe it is achievable.

There is immense pressure from housing associations to be allowed to impose greater rent increases, and huge electoral pressure in Labour areas, where tenants are revolting against the unnecessary increases in council rents.

Rents are much higher in the housing association sector, and are likely to remain so.

Dr Sharples mentions the money taken by Government from our rents, but neglects to "independently advise" tenants that the Government launched a major review on March 10 of the whole housing finance system, "to develop a sustainable, long term system for financing council housing" in response to a powerful national campaign.

Even the Government's Deptpartment for Communities and Local Government has conceded that the present system is "unsustainable" so changes are inevitable.

Dr Sharples didn't mention that housing associations have to borrow huge amounts on the private markets at high interest rates to buy the houses (that we already own) or that they often pay their top officers in excess of £200,000 - all paid for from tenant's rent, of course.

I suppose, given that the independent tenant advisor is paid consultants' fees by South Cambridgeshire District Council, it is not surprising that he is doing his master's dirty work, but never before has the word "independent" been more of a misnomer.

DAVE KELLEWAY

South Cambs Against Transfer

www.scat.me.uk

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