|Issue 2 - February 1972|
at the recent Spennymoor and Durham City tenants association meetings,
organised to protest against the Government's "Fair Rents" scheme,
were 8 and 9 respectively.
It seems barely credible that in Durham's case only 9 people out of 700 tenants in the Sunderland Road area showed any active interest on hearing their council house rents will rise by £1.50 in the next 18 months.
But every house in the area was circularised well in advance of the meeting at the New Durham Workingmen's Club on Wednesday, January 19.
The so-called fair rents scheme gives local housing authorities no option but to raise council house rents in April or October.
If the council chooses April, it must impose three rent rises of 50p a time between April and October 1973. If instead, the council leaves it until October, it must then raise the rents by £1 AND by another £1 in October next year.
There will be a national rent rebate scheme for those many tenants who will not be able to afford the increases.
This will be based on the means test and even then on the gross income of husband and wife, before any tax or other deductions, rather than take-home pay.
Rebates will also be reduced where other wage earners live in the house (by £1.50 for working sons and daughters aged 18 and above).
Also, the rents of more than one million private rented houses will be decontrolled and therefore subject to massive rises starting January 1973.
Unhappily, many low-income families will never claim rent rebates.
There has always been fear and suspicion of town hall administrations among deprived families and this becomes accentuated under the rigours of the means test.