Tenants would be better off with the council

PUBLISHED: 09:21 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 11 May 2010

AS the longest serving members of South Cambs District Council, we have wide experience of housing matters, having served on the Housing Committee for many years, and dealing with numerous housing matters at all levels of the council, and both of us are o

AS the longest serving members of South Cambs District Council, we have wide experience of housing matters, having served on the Housing Committee for many years, and dealing with numerous housing matters at all levels of the council, and both of us are opposed to the transfer of the housing stock to a housing association.

We wish to provide reassurance to Betty Wooton and other tenants regarding her letter to The Crow that we consider her fears to be unfounded.

There is no proposal for all the rents to be taken by the government and the fundamental review of housing finance now being undertaken could well make the future position much better to council tenants than it is now.

Even with the present situation, there is still sufficient money to keep the houses up to standard and carry out all the work that is necessary, and that will continue in the future.

In the past, the council has often, frankly, wasted money and the present situation just means that the council will need to "crispen up its act", obtain value for money, and avoid waste, and that is surely in the interests of all tenants.

It needs to be clearly pointed out that there are considerable financial burdens which a housing association will need to bear, which the council will not have:

1. The millions spent each year on interest on the loan raised to purchase the stock, together with very substantial arrangement fees.

2. Value added tax levied on service charges by the housing association.

3. The costs of new housing association premises.

4. The strong likelihood of much higher wages, as the employees of the association will work in the private rather than the public sector.

5.Vastly increased insurance costs for the properties.

All these costs will have to come out of the rent money before a penny is spent on maintenance, and could well mean that the tenants would be significantly worse off if transfer took place.

In addition, there is no guarantee that long-term rent levels will be as low as council rents.

As an example, a housing association is about to develop a site in a local village for affordable housing, and the indicated rent levels are £95 per week, compared to about £65 for an equivalent council property.

In the present financial climate you are better off with the council, and we urge tenants to vote no to transfer for security of tenure and peace of mind.

Cllr Deb Roberts

Cllr Nigel Cathcart


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