George Osborne is contemplating a major change in the council property rent structure in his forthcoming budget speech. There is intense speculation that those earning £40,000 and located within London, or £30,000 outside of the capital, living in subsidised council properties will be forced to pay the market rate from 2017/18. It is expected this move will save councils around £250 million a year with the funds raised being used to pay down the national debt.
Why is the government changing council rent regulations?
Over the last few months it has come to light that certain politicians and indeed former prominent union paymasters were living in rented council properties, with subsidised rental rates, while earning in excess of £100,000 per annum. It has to be said that from a legal standpoint no laws have been broken but many believe from a moral point of view the subject of council housing needs reviewed.
While many observers are making this out to be a political move by the Conservative party in reality surely it is common sense? Council properties were built to assist those on low incomes not those towards the medium/high echelons of the UK wage structure.
Will this impact the buy to let market?
Depending upon how you look at this proposed move this could be seen as a means of squeezing those on higher incomes out of the council property sector. If this is the case, and many may soon start to look around, could this create increased demand for private rental properties?
It will obviously depend upon the so-called council housing “market rate” although there would seem to be the potential for a tapered rate with a suggestion some would pay “a near market rate”. This could well be the answer to the U.K.’s long-term council property conundrum with councils unable to build anywhere near enough properties to house those in need.
Is this an attack on the rich?
In many ways the Conservative party would appear to be playing a very clever game because how can their political opponents criticise a move which would raise additional income for councils around the UK? The fact that they are also seen to be “bashing the rich” should see such a move railroaded very quickly through the Houses of Parliament.
There will be some critics suggesting that this move is but a balancing act for the proposed increase in the inheritance tax allowance and the rumoured focus upon family properties worth up to £1 million. In many ways it seems that politicians from all parties give with one hand and take with the other although it will be interesting to see how this particular proposal pans out.
The potential to save around £250 million a year in council tax rent subsidies could be a vote winner for the Conservative party right across the political spectrum. There will be some current council tenants up in arms about the move, which could see their rent rise significantly, but from a moral point of view is there really much to complain about?