In response to Coun Bryant’s defence of South Kesteven District Council’s inflation-busting rent increase (Journal Letters, January 31). Coun Bryant’s remarks are, in my opinion, both simplistic and disingenuous.
While it is true that convergence on target rents has been government policy for over 10 years, councils have always enjoyed the legal right to set such rents, and rent increases, as they think reasonable. Adherence to the convergence policy was enforced by imposing financial penalties through the national housing subsidy system, but this system was abolished two years ago, and government no longer has any means of imposing sanctions on those authorities which apply a different approach to rent-fixing.
A glance at SKDC’s published Housing Revenue Account reveals a level of accumulated reserves far in excess of those held by similar authorities elsewhere in the country. These reserves can be used not only to finance investment, but also to mitigate rent icreases. Above-inflation increases not only penalise those tenants who fund their own rents, but also have financial implications for the taxpayer through larger Housing Benefit payments.