Friday, 15 August 2014

Crawley Observer Column 13th August 2014

This week in my Crawley Observer column which is below the picture, I have written about Labour's Tenant Tax and how Crawley Labour Councillors have steadfastly refused to rule out introducing it for Crawley's private sector housing tenants.

"At last month’s Crawley Borough Council Full Council meeting, the Conservative Group tabled a Notice of Motion that sought to eliminate the threat of a Council-initiated tenant tax on Crawley’s private-sector housing tenants. We are rightly concerned that Crawley’s Labour Administration may copy Croydon Borough Council, which is the nearest Labour-controlled Council to Crawley, in planning to introduce a licensing scheme on privately rented properties that would typically cost £200 a year per rented home.
It was an insightful spectacle to see Labour Councillors vigorously defending their Croydon comrades and saying that £200 wouldn’t be very much for Crawley tenants to pay on top of their rents, while claiming they had no plans at present to introduce it here. Caught like a startled rabbit in car headlights, they were floundering all over the place in debate and I felt reminded of the saying “one doth protest too much”. Suspicions are likely to continue as Labour voted en-bloc against this opportunity to rule out a tax on tenants.

A licensing scheme isn’t technically a tax but its effect would be the same as tenants would be paying more. By contrast, Labour’s claims of a ‘bedroom tax’ being a tax is bogus as it is actually a reduction of housing benefit payment to benefit claimants in social-rented housing who have spare bedrooms. Arguably, the real ‘bedroom tax’ is Labour plans to reverse this benefits reduction so that all tax-payers will pay increased amounts for people on benefits to have spare and empty bedrooms. Private-sector tenants would have a double whammy of paying more tax for this as well as a tax of their own.       
It was a shame that this opportunity to bring reassurance to Crawley’s private sector housing tenants was dismissed but I believe we were right to shine a light on Labour’s tenant tax and that we have succeeded in making it harder for it to be introduced in Crawley. Private sector housing tenants in Crawley should not be viewed as a soft and easy target to tax and they now know which party is standing up for them."             

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