Council will make families ‘pay-to-stay’

Bea Lundy 21 January 2016

Proposed legislation in the new Conservative Housing Bill will force all households that earn over £30,000 to pay full unsubsidised market rents, in the new ‘pay-to-stay’ policy.

The new legislation has been accused of ‘‘chastising the poor’’ and has caused controversy because it may force families out of the city. The government has argued that the taxpayer should not be subsidising housing for people who can afford to live independently, on salaries of £30,000 a year or more.

A brief study of the impact these changes may have on Cambridge residents shows that some tenants could face steep increases in rent. An average monthly rent for a three-bedroom council house in Cambridge is around £500. The average rent for the same house in the cheapest 25% of the market is £1000 per month.

A family with two parents and two children, with both parents working full-time jobs that pay just above minimum wage, would earn a little over £30,000 a year before tax.

Dan Cooper, a council tenant and Unite Community Branch candidate for the role of Trades Council secretary in the city, told Cambridge News: “As with everything this government does, it is about chastising the poor and low paid.

“This is no incentive to work, it is impoverishing those who have no choice. It is a grotesque act of the  on families struggling to make ends meet.”

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has called ‘pay-to-stay’ “an ideological attack designed to wage war on social housing penalising those who get on”.

James Youd, secretary of Cambridge Unite Community, added: “The minister [Brandon] Lewis says this is about fair rents and not subsidising those able to pay higher rents. Council housing isn’t subsidised – it was built as a public asset to house people. Today it is needed more than ever.”

The implementation will be mandatory for council house tenants, but optional for housing associations.