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Rents policy is a local matter Matthew Warburton - 13/09/2012

rent_levels_300In our response to the DCLG's "Pay to Stay" consultation which closed this week, ARCH has taken the view that central government should no longer be trying to tell councils what their rents policies should be.

With the end of the HRA subsidy system the government no longer has a financial interest in local rents, except in so far as housing benefit spending is affected. If localism means anything, it means that rents should now be a matter for local choice.

It is clear that some ARCH members, given the opportunity, would choose to charge high-income tenants more. Others would not, either because they disagree in principle, or because they think the benefits of a pay-to-stay scheme would be outweighed by the costs of administering it. ARCH believe that, on this matter, councils should be free to do as they see fit.

From this perspective, the government should not tell councils what rents they should charge, nor does it need to get involved in developing guidance for those councils that wish to operate pay-to-stay schemes - that role could equally well be played by the sector and its professional and representative organisations.  

Where the government should focus its attention is on matters only it can resolve, in this case, legislation to give councils the powers to collect information on income, so they can operate a pay-to-stay scheme should they wish.

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