We shouldn’t be surprised

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The Conservative Government’s ‘Pay To Stay’ policy contained in the Housing and Planning Act is grossly unfair to those families earning a relatively modest income who are living in council housing.

But we should not be surprised.

The Conservatives preach the mantra of rewarding hardworking families while they practise the very opposite.

Council housing should be available to all irrespective of income. Many tenants who will be affected by this policy will be established and happy in their homes and their communities.

Why should they be financially penalised by having to pay higher rent than other tenants on a smaller income?

They may enjoy the security of living in a council tenancy and have no desire to own their own home or move into the privately rented sector with its inflated rents and often unscrupulous landlords unwilling to undertake essential repairs.

We must be very careful not to create an artificial divide between tenants earning a modest income and other tenants who may be in receipt of even smaller incomes and reliant on housing benefit for covering their rental costs.

As we all know, any of us can lose our jobs or our health at any time and become dependent on benefits to get by.

Let’s lay the blame for this policy firmly where it belongs, namely at the door of a Conservative Party with a longstanding antipathy towards council housing.

If we have a shortage of council houses it is because so many were sold off by Margaret Thatcher’s Right To Buy policy in 1979 and they have never been replaced.

One aspect of the controversial Housing and Planning Act that your article failed to mention is that local councils will be forced to sell off their highest valued homes when they become vacant.

They will be sold on the market and in the process fewer transfer opportunities will be available for council tenants to move to bigger properties.

High-value council homes are invariably in high-value areas so genuinely mixed communities will sadly be a thing of the past.

I welcome Councillor Jayne Dunn’s opposition to this policy and call on her and her colleagues to join together on behalf of Sheffield’s council tenants to resist this unfair legislation.

Neil Macpherson

Molloy Street, Sheffield, S8