Published: 6 July, 2012
• LET’S look at the maths behind the “affordable rent opportunity” (Islington first council to come out against ‘affordable rent’ opportunity, June 29).
The average private sector rent is widely thought to be £300 a week in Islington.
Therefore, Islington Council is foregoing the opportunity of charging its tenants 80 per cent of this figure or £240 a week.
Broadly speaking, this means that to be able to afford to continue living in Islington a resident or family income must be at least £1,500 a month or £18,000 a year just to be able to pay the rent and scrape an existence.
The median wage in Britain is only marginally above this level, somewhere between £21,000-£23,000.
Were the council to follow government advice and charge near-market rents, all we would see is larger numbers of council and housing association tenants condemned to claiming ever-larger amounts of housing benefit to subsidise their wages.
Remember, 80 per cent of the housing benefit budget is paid out to the low-paid employed not the unemployed of popular fiction. Therefore, the burden on the taxpayer would have to rise and for what gain?
This government argues that it wants to “make work pay”. Its “market rents” policy would simply act as a disincentive to get people who are out of work into work and encourage others to quit the labour market altogether.
Mildmay Park, N1
• I ADMIRE Councillor James Murray, executive member for housing, for having the courage to stand up to the government and agree secure fair rents and tenancies for life for Islington Council’s social housing tenants.
More particularly, I admire Cllr Murray for himself taking accommodation in the private sector.
I always understood that the welfare state, and I believe that social housing is part of that, was to help those less fortunate than ourselves and to be there as a safety net at the point of need.
How many of England’s, let alone Islington Council’s, councillors and public/private sector or community workers/
volunteers, with a combined household annual income of, say, £40,000-plus, really need to live in social housing at subsidised rents?
They could afford to pay a bit more in rent to their landlords – the councils and housing associations – or, instead, have the courage to give up that much-needed, subsidised accommodation to those less fortunate.
The same goes for those who could earn a good wage, but who choose not to work and to rely on benefits or to work in the black economy. Why do they carry on living at the taxpayer’s expense? Is it because they can?
Organising secretary, Islington Conservative Federation
• ISLINGTON Council has decided to continue with protected social housing.
There is no doubt that this is a vote-winner, and the council should be congratulated.
Yet if there are people who are earning in excess of £40,000 and living in social housing, should they not be contributing to society by paying full rent at market price so the council can maximise its revenue.
This would generate extra cash to build more homes or the cash could be invested to lift the standard of some of the estates in dire need of a makeover.
Amwell Street, EC1