Cost of living crisis: Salford mayor demands Government freezes rents and joins MPs in writing open letter

Salford City Council has been taking part in a consultation on a cap on social housing rent increases proposed by Westminster.

Salford city mayor Paul Dennett is demanding a Government-funded rent freeze during the cost of living crisis.

Mr Dennett has spoken out and published an open letter alongside the MPs Rebecca Long-Bailey, who represents Salford and Eccles in the House of Commons, and Graham Stringer whose constituency is Blackley and Broughton). This comes after the city council took part in the government’s rent cap consultation.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published its proposals for a cap on social housing rent increases, which will be implemented next year.

Without Government help, a five per cent rent cap will cost Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) between £42million and £49m. For Salford alone the figure is between £5.3m and £6m.

What has Mr Dennett said about a rent freeze?

Mr Dennett said: “In Salford, we suggest that for these measures to have the positive impact envisioned, Government must fully fund these rent proposals ensuring that local authorities and registered providers are compensated for the revenue they would have otherwise received under their business plans for rent increases (generally set at Consumer Price Index, plus one per cent).

“The homelessness crisis remains at the forefront of our minds but with almost 6,000 households on our housing register and 108 bids per property advertised, right now, more social rented accommodation is vitally necessary for the local authority to meet its obligations under the Homelessness Reduction Act.

“This is to reduce the financial burden to the taxpayer from temporary accommodation bills, and to bring much needed affordable housing products into the housing market.”

What else did Mr Dennett say about the situation in Salford?

He said that the situation was more complicated in Salford as the housing stock is managed in a private finance initiative (PFI) contract which is exempt from the proposals, yet with the same inflationary pressures impacting the housing sector.

Mr Dennett said the city council had previously put in measures to help residents with rising rents and it now expects a similar Government response to support residents in PFI-managed homes ‘struggling to make ends meet’.

Shared ownership rents and other housing costs for low-cost home ownership residents are also outside the scope of this consultation.

Mr Dennett added: “An unfunded cap on social rents would be disastrous for the very organisations we are relying upon to get to grips with our housing crisis and protect our most vulnerable residents.

“I hope that government will take note of our submission and trust that our concerns will be taken into consideration.

“The Government must do all it can to protect residents in these desperate times during the cost of living crisis. If Government is unable to implement a universal freeze on social housing rents then they must look to mitigate the impacts on our most vulnerable residents.”