LDV poll: 80% of Lib Dems back wealthier households in social housing paying full market rent

by Stephen Tall on June 9, 2012

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 560 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

4-in-5 back change, just 1-in-10 oppose outright

The Coalition last month announced it was consulting whether to charge a full market rent to those in social housing whose household income is over £60,000. We asked our sample of Lib Dem members for their views…

LDV asked: At the moment, rents in social housing are capped at 80% of the market value. It is estimated that around 34,000 homes in England are currently occupied by families with an annual household income of over £60,000. The government is beginning a consultation on removing the 80% limit so that those households with incomes above £60,000 would have to pay the full market rent, yielding an estimated additional £122m. Those in favour argue it is only fair that those with higher incomes should pay a realistic market value. Those against argue it will lead greater social division as communities become more polarised between rich and poor areas. What is your view of removing the 80% limit on households with incomes over £60,000?

    51% – I am in favour of removing the limit at £60,000
    19% – I am in favour of removing the limit but think £60,000 is too high
    10% – I am in favour of removing the limit but think £60,000 is too low
    10% – I am against removing the limit at all
    10% – Don’t know / No opinion

In total, then, four-fifths of Lib Dem members are in favour of removing the 80% limit. A narrow majority (51%) support the £60,000 limit on which the Government is consulting, with a further 29% supporting its removal but thinking the level of household income at which full market rent would be paid should be either higher than £60k (19%) or lower (10%). A minority of 10% of party members oppose removing the limit outright. Here’s a selection of your comments:

Why do households with an income of £60000 can get social housing paid with the taxes of people earning half that?

£60,000 seems arbitary. There is a big difference between a household including multiple dependents bringing in £60k and a childless couple bringing £60k. Dependants need to be taken in to account. But yes, those with high disposable income should be encouraged to move out of social housing to allow those in more need to have it.

My main concern here is the lack of control over rented accomodation and the continued stress on the ridiculous Thatcher slogan of the ‘property ladder’ which has led to the current banking and economic crisis.

This is just another example of turning social housing, which should be a choice not a welfare benefit for the “deserving poor”. It is a retrograde step and like many other “simple” ideas will end up costing more than it allegedly saves!

If they earn that much then they should move to the private sector making space for the families like mine who are ignored by the housing market

The bigger problem is that the 80% cap is too high for such rents to be genuinely affordable for the vast majority of tenants or wouldbe tenants.

I think that there could be a limit, but that there should be exceptions for London and other very expensive areas where families have lived there a long time.

None of the options given is satisfactory. In the long term we should not be subsidising those on more than average earnings, but there should be clear progress on having more social housing and reducing market rents before implimenting this policy.

This question isn’t quite right. Affordable rents are capped at 80% market rent. But old style social rents, which apply to most existing tenants, can be much less than this. I object to the move to affordable rents let alone the charging of full market rents. Charging market rents to better off tenants will just trigger them to exercise their Right to Buy.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 560 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 28th May and 1st June.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.