Government promises a better deal for council tenants

Local authorities are to get increased subsidies to improve the quality and management of their council homes.

Councils in England will receive £3.86 billion in Government subsidy next year (2003-2004), including extra cash to spend on housing management and maintenance.

This represents an average cash increase of 8.1% for management and 5.7% for maintenance, amounting to about £63 per dwelling.

Housing Minister, Jeff Rooker, says the additional resources, through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), would enable councils to tackle urgent repairs and improve tenants&#39 quality of life.

He says: “We are combating years of under-investment in the fabric of council stock. This is the fifth significant increase in allowances, following years of stagnation.

“The Prime Minister has stated his personal commitment to fighting anti- social behaviour. Local Authorities, as social landlords, are essential in winning this battle. This cash increase will boost their efforts in tackling this blight through imaginative prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation initiatives.”

The government has also announced it is going ahead with the changes to HRA subsidy consulted on over the summer. Rooker claims the changes will ensure an authority that followed government policy for social rents and protected tenants from large rent rises, would not be worse off, particularly with proposals for service charges.

He says: “Councils are to be given discretion as to what services to charge for, but to further protect tenants, the proposals strongly discourage councils from applying service charges for essential fabric costs such as for communal lifts.”