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Thursday, January 16, 2014
Taxpayers are being hit as nearly half of the homes intended for Islington’s poor families have fallen into the hands of private landlords demanding sky-high rents.
Shock figures released this week show a staggering 39 per cent of properties bought under the right to buy scheme in Islington are now being rented out by private landlords.
MPs have warned of a “divided” borough with the poorest families “driven out”. The crisis is costing the taxpayer millions, as poorer families need huge housing benefits to pay their private rent, due to the decline in the numbers of subsidised council homes.
The borough’s average weekly council rent is £92.07, dwarfed by the private sector’s £341.54 weekly bill.
Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North said he “constantly” comes across residents who can’t afford their homes, including many in full-time work.
He said: “The borough is becoming divided, with some people buying houses for a million quid, and people in unaffordable housing just down the street.
“It’s a terrible sadness that people are being driven out of our borough.”
Tom Copley, a Labour member of the London Assembly, unearthed the figures, which place Islington seventh worst out of the 34 London authorities.
He said: “It is obscene that a policy developed to promote home ownership has resulted in thousands of former council homes being let through the private rented sector. As a consequence, taxpayer subsidised housing is inadvertently being used to line the pockets of private sector landlords.”
London-wide rents continue to soar, with the average rent last year standing at £1,996 per month.
Mr Corbyn said that an investment in more social housing, and establishing rent controls, will help the crisis – which costs both vulnerable residents and the taxpayer.
Cllr James Murray, executive member for housing, said right to buy had created a ridiculous situation but added: “We are on track to build 2,000 new affordable homes for social rent by 2015.”