Rent reduction plans will have a ‘devastating impact’, says EDDC leader

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 November 2015

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East Devon District Council had called on ministers to reconsider a one per cent rent reduction for council and social tenants.

Government plans to help the poorest households by reducing their rent will have a ‘devastating impact’ on council housing in East Devon, according to the district authority’s leader.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) had called on ministers to reconsider a one per cent rent reduction for council and social tenants.

The authority says the change will leave it £7.9million out of pocket after four years - enough to build 66 new affordable homes or refurbish more than a third of its 4,243 council properties with new kitchens.

But despite meeting with the Government’s housing boss to plead its case, EDDC has now stopped its plans to build or buy new homes – and faces ‘difficult decisions’ over maintenance of its existing stock.

EDDC is landlord to 511 homes in the Honiton parish, 352 in Axminster and 173 in Seaton.

In a letter to Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, EDDC leader Councillor Paul Diviani wrote: “Your unexpected announcement, if implemented as proposed, will have a devastating impact on our 30-year business plan and our ability to maintain tenants’ homes, provide a housing management service, and build or acquire new homes for households in housing need.

“Our members and tenants will now face some difficult decisions about how we prioritise and spend our reduced income.

“This will impact on our ability to invest in our existing stock and maintain homes to a decent standard and is likely to remove any capacity to fund new house building.

“We urge you to abandon these proposals as there are better ways of achieving a reduction in the welfare benefits bill, and request a meeting with you and our MPs to explain in more detail the devastating impact of your government’s proposals.”

A report to EDDC’s housing review board published this week says its lobbying has been unsuccessful - and recommends that the council focuses on reviewing its plans for the future.

Proposals for a revised budget will come before the council in the new year.


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