Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Market rents for council housing?

We've noticed a puzzling contradiction in what Stephen Greenhalgh, the by now infamous Leader of H&F Council, has to say about rents for council homes such as ours. On the one hand, in the midst of a rather incoherent speech captured on film by the Guardian he acknowledges the prohibitive cost of renting in the private sector in this area:
..."private renting's £300 or £400 a week ... getting on the housing ladder's bloody difficult unless you're a millionaire."
At last! Something on which we agree. But without the swearing, no need for that Councillor. We teach our children otherwise.

Surely then, this revelation must have led him to the obvious conclusion: in order to promote truly mixed communities it's essential to continue providing relatively low cost social rented housing.

Yet in the document that outlines his chilling vision of the future for social housing, one of Greenhalgh's central proposals is to move social housing rents to market levels. In fact, he's so carried away with his big idea that in a truly inflationary fashion he moves in the space of a few pages from 'near market rents' to 'market rents', which are then touted shamelessly throughout the document. Probably on the grounds that if you say something often enough people may mistake it for truth.

So, at risk of pointing out the obvious, Mr Greenhalgh would like to charge people on our estate a rent of £300 - £400 per week.

Who could afford that? In what way would that help to fix supposedly 'broken' neighbourhoods? It would decrease opportunities to study, train or work and effectively cause rent poverty along the lines of fuel poverty with tenants spending vast amounts of their income on rent. Many people would be trapped on benefits (i.e. the tax payer would foot the bill) or forced to move out of the area.

Oh yes, now we see it, that's actually what they want, isn't it?


  1. Although I'm a Chiswick resident, you Hammersmith people live a lot closer to us than most of those living in our 'borough' Hounslow, so these artifical neighbourhood divides are meaningless. You are our neighbours so I wrote to our propective Tory candidate mary macleod on her view about what is happening in Hammersmith - and the damage to community cohesion that this plan represents - nothing received so far - Keep up the good work!

  2. My husband and I pay £325 a week on rent for our 1-bed flat, but we have no savings to speak of. It's possible - just! - but involves rearranging your priorities and putting up with a lower quality of life.

  3. Dear Anonymous (2)
    You sound to be doing a very good job of managing a difficult situation. Your comment ilustrates well the point we make about rent poverty. Whilst paying such a high rent it becomes impossible to save for a deposit to enter the housing market - even if you could afford the mortgage. We wish you well in the future.