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COUNCIL TENANTS TO PAY 'REALISTIC' RENTS

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Council house rents will rise to reflect the costs of private accomodation under plans to be unveiled by John Presc...
Council house rents will rise to reflect the costs of private accomodation under plans to be unveiled by John Prescott, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p19). The idea that local authorities will charge 'market-based rents' for council houses will be revealed in the

long-awaited housing green paper.

In more expensive parts of the country, especially in London, council rents could rise from an average of£50 a week to£200. The plans have been drawn up to tackle the problems of huge numbers of empty council homes because people choose to live in good areas rather than on a run-down estate. The reform will be in tandem with a shake-up of the

housing benefit system to ensure that those who effectively get free accomodation will have to contribute in future. Ministers also believe that charging market rents for council houses will raise extra cash to subsidise social housing and renovate run-down properties.

In London, council house rents average about£50 a week, even though private rented accomodation is far more expensive. This has led to some striking anomalies. In Dolphin Squre, Belgravia, Westminster City Council charges£60 a week, while those in the private sector pay up to£2,000 a week. In the east end, former council flats in high-rise blocks bought by tenants sell for£100,000 or are rented out at£200 a week, while council tenants in the same block pay£35 a week.

Under the new proposals council rents would 'reflect' private rents, though they would still probably be slightly lower, because council houses are less popular than private homes.

Campaigners for the homeless said that they move could have a catastrophic effect on social housing, forcing low-paid tenants out of better areas.

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