Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Fair Deal For Council Tenants

It is widely accepted across the political spectrum that Southampton gets a rotten deal from the government. Each year the government in real terms cuts a large chunk out of the council's budget. The net effect of this after ten years of Labour is a council tax that has more than doubled.

The new Conservative council in Southampton is working hard to improve the city and to get a fair deal from the government. As well as investment in our roads, in our local schools and in making our streets safer we need greater investment in housing. We also need a to get a fair deal from government for our council tenants. You would imagine that the rents tenants pay would all be reinvested back into improvements to housing and related services. Sadly this is not the case and next year the government will take £5.8m out of the rents that our tenants in the city pay.

In effect the Labour government is making a profit out of our council tenants and they are denying the city the investment it needs to improve housing standards to the level that we would like. To add insult to injury, every year the government forces up the rents way above the rate of inflation. As I candidate for Parliament I am fighting for a fair deal for tenants and lobbying to get this money back. The new Conservative council is taking bold steps to improve housing in the city. For instance the extra £1.5m of investment into the Maybush and Millbrook Park estates and in the private rented sector, the extra £1.8m for free home insulation.

We could do so much more if we also got back that £5.8m of tenants' money. Southampton has 18,000 council homes. That's over £300 extra investment per property in just one year! This is money that could be spent on cleaning, painting and decorating, new kitchens, bathrooms, improved heating and security.

As well as more investment for council homes it would also mean more work locally. The city council is working hard to be more supportive of local firms who wish to bid for such work. This would mean more local jobs at a time when families and businesses are struggling with the backdrop of the recession.

At the moment Southampton is losing out and I will fight in Parliament to redress the balance and to get a fair deal for the city.

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