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East Staffs Come Clean On £228,557

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GMB Ask East Staffordshire Council To Name 11 Private Landlords Who Received £228,557 Taxpayers Cash For Rents Of Properties They Own

The council is being disingenuous on transparency as it redacted the names of eleven sole traders renting houses with rent being paid direct by taxpayers says GMB.

GMB is calling on East Staffordshire Council to name 11 private landlords that received a total of £228,557 direct from taxpayers in housing benefit in 2012/13.

This follows a statement by East Staffordshire Council to local press that the council is ‘happy to make details of the payments public”. See notes to editors for report in Burton Mail of 8th March 2014.

In East Staffordshire there are a total of 7,152 dwellings owed by private landlords rented to tenants. 2,819 dwellings, or 39.4% of the total, are in receipt of housing benefits.  Of these there are 567 dwellings where the rents are paid direct to the landlords.

GMB submitted a Freedom of Information request on 2 December 2013 asking the Council to name the top 20 private landlords receiving housing benefit direct for these 567 dwellings.

The council replied supplying the names of 9 landlords but redacted names for 11 landlords who received a total of £228,557. The data is set out below. GMB has now asked the council to make this redacted information public.

East Staffordshire

 

Name of landlord

Amount received

Nicholas Humphreys

£62,059

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£55,543

Consolidated Charity

£53,872

Surelet

£53,762

Acquire

£44,507

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£26,967

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£22,571

Skipper Properties

£21,962

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£21,766

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£18,128

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£14,673

JDJ properties

£14,607

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£14,454

Dunstall Enterprises

£14,454

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£14,124

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£13,587

Kingstone behague properties

£13,587

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£13,369

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

£13,369

SJ Properties

£13,087

Joe Morgan, GMB Regional Secretary, said “GMB has followed up the statement by East Staffordshire Council that they are happy for this information to be made public by asking them to name these landlords.

The Data Protection Act safeguards private information regarding individuals. However it provides no such protection on information in their capacity as sole traders.

The council is being disingenuous with the public regarding transparency as they have redacted the names of eleven sole traders renting houses they own and the rent being paid direct by taxpayers.

GMB is seeking a fundamental change in policy on funding social housing. This is not a new stance by the union.

Mrs Thatcher changed the labour movement traditional policy of spending money on bricks to spending the money on rents. Since then some £411 billion public funds has been spent on rents. It would be far cheaper to build social houses for rent and stop this money lining the pockets of the already wealthy.

The labour movement secured a law in 1907 to allow councils to build houses for rent. This was reversed in the 1980s. This was a serious policy mistake and the cost to the public purse is now becoming apparent. The growth in "buy to let" empires funded by the policy is heaping additional costs on the Exchequer. The figure may be at least £3 billion per annum and is growing.”

End

Contact: Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Equality & Inclusion Officer on 07956 237178 or Stephaine Peacock, GMB Regional Political Officer on 07841 763521 or Cath Speight, GMB National Political Officer on 07505 711925.

Notes to editors

Copy of Article in Burton Mail 8th March 2014

'Secretive' landlord payment claims rejected by council

Written by RICH GUTTRIDGE

A COUNCIL has hit back at claims from a trade union that it made ‘secretive’ payments totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds to private landlords.

The GMB claimed it had lifted the lid on the ‘exploitation of public money’ in Burton after obtaining figures that revealed East Staffordshire Borough Council paid around half a million pounds directly to 20 companies or individuals alone in the space of a year to cover the bills of tenants in receipt of housing benefits.

The authority said it had nothing to hide and that it was ‘happy’ to make details of the payments public.

There is nothing unusual about local authorities paying cash directly to landlords.

They will often do so when there is a concern that tenants who are eligible to receive housing benefits will be unlikely or unwilling to pay their rent on time, thus ensuring the landlords do not lose out on what they are owed.

But the GMB argued that the policy allowed private landlords to ‘suck up taxpayers’ money’ by keeping rental rates high.

Union bosses said the money would be better spent building homes which people with financial difficulties could afford.

It said the figures should bring ‘shame’ on the Government and called on it to scrap the practice.

The biggest sum paid out by East Staffordshire Borough Council was to estate agent Nicholas Humphreys, which has a branch in High Street, Burton.

It received £62,059 in the year to November 2013 to cover for its tenants in receipt of housing benefit.

Fellow property firms Surelet and Acquire also appeared near the top of the list, receiving £53,762 and £44,507 respectively.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: “Our research lifts the lid on the mainly secret payments to landlords who are the real winners from Britain’s welfare system.

“The research shows the rich and powerful sucking up taxpayers’ money through housing benefit. This is made possible by out of control rents and a lack of affordable and council homes that so many hard working people and their families desperately need.

“This should bring both shame and action from this government to end this exploitation of public money. These billions would be better spent building houses and homes for real working people.”

A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “Housing benefit is paid to landlords in accordance with the relevant legislation.

“Landlords who have more than one tenant receiving housing benefit are therefore likely to receive large payments in a financial year, dependent on the tenants’ income and circumstances.

“East Staffordshire Borough Council was more than happy to provide the information in accordance with Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation.”



 

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