Uttlesford District Council in rent battle to save residents' cash

PUBLISHED: 08:44 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 07:23 30 May 2010

ANGRY councillors have vowed to protect Uttlesford residents from having their hard-earned cash spread around to pay for debts in other parts of the country. In an effort to introduce a fairer system the Government have proposed that rent collected from

ANGRY councillors have vowed to protect Uttlesford residents from having their hard-earned cash spread around to pay for debts in other parts of the country.

In an effort to introduce a 'fairer' system the Government have proposed that rent collected from council house tenants will be used to help pay off a £17billion national debt - despite none of it being Uttlesfords.

Chairman of the council's community and housing committee, Rod Chamberlain, said: "As a council with a good track record of maintaining our housing stock we strongly object to having other council's debt allocated to us, and in turn, our tenants. "We could be talking about mega money here and we still do not know how much we will have to put in. It could be anything from £10m to £100m."

Currently, council house tenants pay into an Uttlesford District Council pot, from that amount nearly 50 per cent goes to central government and is spread around the country to areas which most need it - the rest is kept for the maintenance and improvement of the district's housing stock.

However, councillors have long argued that all money collected should stay in Uttlesford and be spent on the houses within the district.

The government have now proposed to abolish the current system but use money from all councils to pay off national housing debt - effectively leaving Uttlesford with either the same amount being taken away or possibly even more.

Cllr David Morson said that he was concerned about the amount of money involved.

He added: "The council does not know at this point how much it would have to pay, so we don't know if we will be worse off than before.

"I am very uncomfortable about signing up to a proportion of debt of which in no way we have incurred. What if we have to put up council rent as a result?"

Cllr Julie Redfearn, vice chairman of the committee, agreed and said: "This council runs a very good housing department and it seems like we are being punished for that."

A consultation on the distribution of council rent is set to end on October 27, and councillors have agreed a draft response welcoming the abolishment of the current system but strongly opposing being saddled with other council's debt without any further negotiations.

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