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Squeezed tenants anger at Camden's inflation busting rent rises

PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 January 2012

Julian Fulbrook

Julian Fulbrook

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Furious tenants facing inflation busting rent rises from Camden Council say they are being squeezed between frozen wages and spiralling household costs.

The Labour-run authority has voted to hike rents by 8 per cent, blaming the government’s decision to withdraw £6million from the housing budget for the large increase.

Pleading with councillors to protect tenants from the sharp rise, Fran Heron, chairwoman of the tenants organisation the Camden District Management Group, said: “For many these increases will mean further poverty, social deprivation and extreme financial hardship.

“Many cannot afford these rises given that wages are decreasing, benefits are being cut, public sector pay is being frozen and many pensions are falling.

“It is highly likely that a significant number will be forced to claim partial housing benefit and will become trapped in the poverty trap.”

The increase will mean an average rent increase of 8.1 per cent, or £7.40 a week, from April 2.

Emma Causier, who lives with her two young sons and husband in Brookfield Estate, Highgate West Hill, said the rises will have a major impact on her family.

The genealogy researcher, who lives in a small two bed flat, said: “The price of the heating has been going up and up and now so is the rent. But our wages haven’t.

“The economic slump is having a big impact on families like ours, so to have this rise in the middle of it is going to be really difficult.”

Mrs Causier added: “The council should be shielding us from the worst effects of the government’s cuts.”

Calls were growing for the council to follow the example of Labour-run authority Ealing and pass on a smaller rent increase to tenants.

Housing chief councillor Julian Fulbrook said he was “sympathetic” to residents’ concerns, but denied Ealing was a test case Camden could emulate.

Cllr Fulbrook said: “Ealing has gone in for staffing reduction and have been able to do that because they are bringing their social housing stock back in house.

“We can’t do this.”

He said the council would look at rents again next year when the council will have “complete freedom” to set the levels.

He added that he was raising rent concerns with housing ministers.

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