According to the DCLG there are between 1,000 and
6,000 households living in local authority and housing association
homes with incomes above £100,000 a year. A rather larger
number, perhaps 12,000 to 34,000 households, earn more than
The government believes that it is not appropriate for people on
very high incomes to enjoy subsidised housing and is consulting on
proposals to require or allow landlords to charge such tenants
Estimates of the numbers involved are so vague because there are
no reliable data on the incomes of social tenants who are not
eligible for HB. Nor is it clear whether councils and other
social landlords have adequate powers to require tenants or
prospective tenants to disclose income data.
Consequently the government is contemplating primary legislation
to provide such powers, but meanwhile proposing to issue guidance
to provide encouragement to councils to charge higher rents to
high-income tenants should they choose, which seems a rather
back-to-front way of proceeding.
consultation paper asks whether councils should be allowed or
required to operate a pay to stay scheme - but makes no attempt to
review the arguments for and against. If any such scheme is
to be introduced, the case for local discretion is overwhelming, at
least as far as council homes are concerned. Local
circumstances and local policies vary widely. While some
councils may agree with the government that social housing in their
area is a precious resource that should be carefully rationed;
others may take the view that better-off working tenants are the
precious resource they don't wish in any way to discourage from
living in certain local neighbourhoods.
Current government policy is that individual rents are largely a
matter for local discretion - at least where HB subsidy
calculations are not affected - and it should stay that way.
The consultation paper asks questions about the income above which
higher rents might be chargeable and the level of rents which
should be charged. A consistently localist approach would
hold that these should be matters for local decision - different
answers could well make sense in different areas.
These are just first thoughts. ARCH will be developing
them over the coming weeks with the intention of submitting a
response by the deadline of 12 September. Member councils are
strongly encouraged to submit their own responses direct to DCLG,
and to tell us what they think ARCH should say.
Please post your views here in the members' area.