Trouble is, with the various council papers issued yesterday ahead of next Monday’s cabinet meeting where the 2011-2012 budget for the borough will be
rubber-stampedapproved, it’s hard to discern what is the really bad news and what is the smelly brown stuff being heaped on top of it.
Take, for instance, the 6.1 per cent hike in rents for council tenants.
According to the council, the increase is just an average figure – there will be those who will be hit by an even bigger increase in the rents they have to pay. 6.1 percent: that’s more than twice the current rate of inflation.
For all Croydon’s Tory administration’s anticipated triumphalism over their not increasing Council Tax – when in truth, central government actually gave them little other option, while they preside over a 25 per cent cut in local services – this council rent increase is certain to hit the poorest parts of the borough hardest.
There are more than 16,000 council tenants in Croydon, and more than one-quarter of these are aged 60 or over, and a large proportion of them will be dependent on fixed incomes from pensions.
The rent increase news has been slipped through in the Housing Revenue Account Rent and Budget Setting document, delivered by “Cuddly Dudley” Mead.
Under the Notional Housing Revenue Account, our Dud reckons that in the coming year, Croydon’s tenants will be paying enough rent that the council will be able to pay more than £16 million to central government.
- As the council’s own report says: “The 6.1% increase in rent will have a negative financial impact on council tenants and their ability to pay.” The suggested actions are to provide more debt advice and to monitor an increase in housing benefit claims…
Meanwhile, Croydon Council’s new “service hub” continues to be built, at a cost of at least £450 million.