Hancock to take £1,000 a year “tenants’ tax” protest to Parliament

by Stephen Tall on March 3, 2009

Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, together with his fellow Portsmouth Lib Dems, has taken his campaign on behalf of council tenants to the highest levels, including Downing Street and Parliament. The issue? One that is faced by 156 councils around the country:

… council tenants are angry because each household will be paying £1,000 a year over the next thirty years directly into the Government’s coffers. The Government takes money from Portsmouth and 205 other councils. Some money is distributed back to councils. 50 councils benefit and 156 pay money to the Government but there is an overall surplus that the Government keeps of £194 million. Therefore a large surplus – £4.6 million this year from Portsmouth alone goes into general Government expenditure – effectively a tax that only council tenants have to pay. With large increases due in the amount taken in coming years, Portsmouth City Council estimates that unless it is reformed Portsmouth’s 15,000 council tenants will pay £500 million over the next 30 years to the Government – over £1,000 a year.

Mike presented the petition in Parliament last night – here’s Hansard’s (somewhat quaint) account of proceedings:

Mr. Mike Hancock (Portsmouth, South) (LD): It gives me a great deal of pleasure to submit this petition, although I do so with somewhat disappointed feelings, on behalf of the council tenants in the Portsmouth city council area. They are disappointed that the Government continue to take many millions of pounds from them; the Government have taken £8.7 million, including £4.6 million this financial year, from the rents of the city council tenants for general Government expenditure. The tenants hope that the House will urge the Government to reverse that trend and take account of not only the campaign by Portsmouth city council tenants, but that of tenants throughout the country of England; the other parts of the UK are covered by separate legislation on this point.

The petition is submitted in the names of Mr. Stothard, Ms Jacqui Reardon, Ms Shai Hancock-Richardson and Olivia Cowburn. I am proud to present this petition.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Humble Petition of Portsmouth City council Tenants, and others,

Sheweth that the Government has taken £8.7 million including £4.6 million this financial year from the rents of Portsmouth City council tenants for general Government expenditure; and declares that this will continue for the next 30 years at an estimated cost of £500 million,

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House will urge the Government to revise this trend so that the rent from Portsmouth City council tenants is spent directly for their benefit,

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. ]