In 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.