Dec 13, 2008 0
Responding to the news that Reading’s Labour politicians have lobbied Housing Minister Margaret Beckett for Government help to bring empty homes in Reading back into use, and to stop the disgraceful practice of council tenants’ rent being clawed back to the Treasury – two Liberal Democrat-led policies in Reading – the Liberal Democrats have welcomed Labour’s change of tack.
Lib Dem Housing Spokesperson Cllr Daisy Benson – who has led the empty homes campaign in Reading – said:
“It’s great news that, only TWO YEARS after the Lib Dems first raised the need for Labour-run Reading Borough Council to bring the many empty homes in the town back into use Labour politicians in Reading have finally got the message.
“Despite Labour agreeing to our call for an Empty Homes strategy, we are still waiting for the first empty property to be brought back into use through the Council. With the recession starting to bite, the need for the Council to work to make long-term empty homes available for families made homeless is now very urgent.”
Parliamentary Campaigner for Reading East, Cllr Gareth Epps added:
“We welcome any support for the Lib Dem campaign to scrap the scandal of the so-called “tenant tax” which sees part of council tenants’ rent clawed back into the Treasury’s coffers every year. Now more than ever the wealth of hard pressed residents in Reading must be safeguarded by the Labour Council.
“What is bizarre is that – only days ago – the Labour Leader of the Council refused to back the cross-party campaign run by councils aimed at stopping Labour’s tenant tax.”
The Government’s negative subsidy or “tenant tax” means that £4.5 million of Reading council rents – one pound in every five – is being taken by the Government into Treasury coffers. The amount taken has rocketed in the last three years.