The Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam has today written to Simon Clarke MP, the new Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Communities and Housing to call for an immediate cap on rent increases for residents in the private rented sector to protect those most vulnerable during the Cost of Living Crisis. The letter also calls for a ban on evictions for both tenants of social housing and the private rented sector in these uncertain economic times.
A combination of wage stagnation, high inflation, and sky rocketing energy bills in the face of a looming recession has caused untold pressure on struggling families across the borough with the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s. Tower Hamlets has one of the highest social housing stock in the UK, and also some of the highest levels of deprivation in London, therefore rent increases will have a devastating effect on residents.
In the letter, Cllr Islam also urges the Secretary of State to push the Renters Reform Bill through Parliament as soon as possible, which contains such measures as the long-overdue abolition of Section 21 evictions, which allowed landlords to evict their tenants for no valid reason.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:
“Residents in Tower Hamlets are already dealing with the negative effects of the Tory Cost of Living Crisis, and the last thing they need now is bumper rent increases.
“The new Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities needs to get on top of his brief urgently and support our recommendations to help those most vulnerable in this crisis in our borough and across the UK.”
Full Text of the Letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities
Dear Secretary of State,
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and I hope your tenure focuses on the best interests of our residents here in Tower Hamlets.
I am writing today on behalf of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group regarding the renting crisis that is affecting residents across Tower Hamlets, and the rest of London which is plunging people into poverty in the face of the Cost of Living Crisis and a real possibility of increased homelessness as rents become too high to afford.
As you will know, a vicious combination of wage stagnation, high inflation, and sky rocketing energy bills the face of a looming stagnation has caused untold pressure on struggling families across the borough with the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s. In the 21st Century, having an affordable, secure home should be a right and not a privilege for our residents but this is becoming out of reach for many due to rising private rents and a lack of genuinely affordable homes.
I welcome the long overdue proposals in the Renters Reform Bill that was drafted by your predecessor and includes the abolition of the unfair practice of Section 21 evictions, which allowed landlords to evict their tenants for no reason at all, and introduces a new Decent Homes Standard for the private rented sector (PRS). I would stress the urgency of ensuring this legislation package is passed through Parliament as soon as possible.
Immediate action from the Government needs to take place now to protect those vulnerable and struggling residents who do not know if they are going to be able to afford their next rent payment, therefore I would be grateful for your support on immediately implementing cap on rent increases for PRS tenants to protect those most vulnerable during the Cost of Living Crisis.
In addition, I would urge you to encourage your colleagues at the Department for Work & Pensions to urgently reverse the Government’s “freeze” on Local Housing Allowance rates of Housing Benefit / UC Housing Element for PRS tenants and peg these back at the median average of local market rents as was done under the original legislation introduced when Labour was in government.
Similarly, your DWP colleagues must reverse their £80 million or 40 per cent cut in funding for Discretionary Housing Payments to ensure that fewer people are left facing unsustainable shortfalls that can only be made up out of other Social Security benefits they need to put food on the table, clothe themselves and their children or heat their homes.
I would also be grateful if the Government could support a ban on evictions for PRS and social housing tenants in these uncertain economic times.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Sirajul Islam
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group