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Thurrock Council to ask government to be exempt over rent reductions

THURROCK Council is to write to the government asking it be made exempt from the planned “requirement to reduce rents by one per cent” for four years starting in 2016.

The council’s cabinet, meeting on Wednesday, 11 November, supported the move after a report explained: “The estimated cumulative impact of these proposals has the potential to make the council business plan unviable.”

It added: “The implications of the most mature of these proposals which alone has and estimated impact of taking £14.6 million out of the business plan from 2016/17 to 2019/20, and £218 million over the 30-year life of the business plan.”

Presenting the report, Council Leader Cllr John Kent said the impact the government’s plans would have on Thurrock’s ambitions to continue building new affordable homes and its Transforming Homes programme aimed at bringing ever council-owned home in the borough up to the best possible standard, were at risk

He said: “It will be much tougher to do this if we have to implement the one per cent rent cut, a cut that is worth, about 80p to £1 a week for the average Thurrock rent payer.

“Over the next four years it will take £14.6 million from the money available to build new and refurbish existing council homes. It is for these reasons that a key recommendation this evening is for an application to be made to the Secretary of State for an exemption on applying the full rent reduction.

“Without that exemption all our good work is at risk.”

The report explained the “key policy changes” included a one per cent reduction in social rents for four years from the 1 April 2016; pay to stay proposals from 2017/18 to impose mandatory rents for high income social tenants; and payment to the Secretary of State to reflect the value of the council’s interest in any vacant high value properties or the disposal of such properties”.

However, it went on, “the full detail of the above announcements are not yet known” and the report and recommendations endeavour to ensure the council’s housing programme – including building and improvements – continue as fully as possible.

He said he believed Thurrock’s successful record attracting government grants and other funding for building homes and promoting home-building proved the council’s determination to help local people and put it in good stead of achieving the exemption.

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