Plaid Cymru have claimed a victory following news that a substantial part of £11.4m of rent money currently taken by the London Treasury every year, will be returned to Wrexham council. The Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Scheme – which has seen over a billion pounds of Welsh council rent money paid to the Westminster Treasury – will be reformed, leaving more money in the hands of Welsh councils.
Wrexham councils Executive Board are due to discuss the implications of the announcement, along with targets to reach the Welsh Housing Quality standard on Tuesday, with millions now being due to return to the local housing pot.
Until now, councils which raised more money from council housing rents than they spent on maintaining those properties, have had to send surplus monies to the Treasury. Money was then redistributed to councils throughout England and Wales which spent more on maintenance and refurbishment than they received in rent.
Figures obtained by Plaid back in 2010 revealed that 21 of Wales’s 22 local authorities had lost money to the Treasury ranging from over £139million in Cardiff to £110 million in Wrexham.
Plaid's Wrexham Parliamentary candidate Carrie Harper, branded the scheme as ‘the great rent rip off’ back in 2010 when campaigning against the subsidy system. In response to the ending of the scheme and the upcoming discussion at Wrexham council, she said:
“This is fantastic news for Wrexham. Although the details of the exit from the scheme have yet to be settled, we already know it will mean millions returning to the housing budget locally. This will allow Wrexham council to meet the Welsh Housing Quality standard by 2020 and hopefully permanently take the stock transfer issue off the agenda.”
“As well as using this money to invest in our local housing stock, it also opens up the possibility for the council to build new council housing for the first time in over 40 years. It is going to make a huge difference and I’m hugely proud of the role Plaid has played in remedying this injustice.”
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has relentlessly pursued the issue in Parliament. He first raised the ‘great rent robbery’ just two days after giving his June 2010 maiden speech. After his debate later that year, he tabled a motion to gain the support of fellow MPs for scrapping the scheme. Unfortunately, not a single Member of Parliament from Wales, other than from Plaid Cymru, supported his calls to end the unfair scheme.
Carrie Harper added: “ Plaid have continuously campaigned to raise awareness about this housing scandal both locally and at Westminster. There can be no doubt that our MP Jonathon Edwards has played a leading role in finally bringing this rent rip off to an end. The return of this money will rightly bring big benefits to council tenants both in Wrexham and across Wales.”