Council snubs rents protest by tenants.
CAMPAIGNERS have lost their fight for ‘freedom of choice’
over changes to council rent payments.
Members of Kirklees tenants’ and residents’ associations
protested at plans to rip up
agreements and make changes to how
more than 23,000 households pay their rent.
Currently tenants can pay via their bank account, the Post Office,
paypoints, in shops or council offices but that’s set to change in
April and the only payment choice will be mandatory
an order given to a bank or other financial institution by an account holder to pay an amount of money from the account to a specified person or company at regular intervals
Richard Bastow made the deputation to Kirklees Cabinet as 30 people
waved placards outside Huddersfield Town Hall.
He said: “This is about freedom of choice, we’re being
offered no choice in the way we pay our rent and we believe this is
He told Cabinet members: “You should offer more than one
choice. Paypal, your chosen provider, allows collection via more than
one method so why are you restricting it to just Direct Debit? “For
many people going out to pay their rent is the only social interaction
Brenda Bodenham criticised the council and Kirklees Neighbourhood
Housing for a “threatening” letter telling tenants they face
if they fail to sign up to Direct Debit and fall into arrears.
The sub-postmaster of Honley Post Office said: “I had a
96-year-old lady come to my counter in tears and
received the letter.
“Cabinet, I ask you, how can you treat the most vulnerable and
treasured citizens like this? “I understand there are costs to be
saved, trust me there are ways to save a lot of money, but taking away
the right to choose, is that far more important than a penny-pinching
exercise?” Two other people made representations against the
council’s proposals, but the Cabinet members confirmed they would
to reconsider the value or importance of
Verb 1. reassess – revise or renew one’s assessment
Simon Rodgers, chief executive officer of Kirklees Neighbourhood
), apologised if people felt their letters were threatening
but said they had a legal duty to inform tenants of the changes.
He added they were “facing unprecedented changes” in the
way benefits are being paid, with tenants getting benefits directly,
rather than paid on their behalf.
“We will have to collect 10,000 more rent payments from
October and each transaction costs money. This is a cost-effective way
to ease the pressure.”
Clr Peter McBride said: “This isn’t something we wish to
do, it’s something we have to do.”
His Cabinet colleague, Clr David Sheard, member for Resources,
said: “What we’re talking about affects a small amount of
people, 80% have already signed up to it.”
He said the cost would have to be passed on if they didn’t
KNH and the council has agreed to phase the Direct Debit payment in
and Clr Jean Calvert, of Ashbrow ward, offered to help her constituents
fill forms in if necessary.
Also at the Town Hall was mum-of-one Rebecca Lambert, who received
a letter saying her housing benefit was being cut as she
‘over-occupied’ her Deighton home.
However, Ms Lambert lives with her 16-month-old son Sam, who was
not on council records.
She said: “They said I had a spare bedroom, but I’ve got
Sam and they know that, the council’s housing woman who moved me
into the house knew that.”
She was told she would lose 14% of her housing benefit as a result,
but after complaints to Kirklees Council they’ve added Sam as
living in the property.
“How many other people have they made mistakes over?”
tr.v. dubbed, dub·bing, dubs
1. To tap lightly on the shoulder by way of conferring knighthood.
2. To honor with a new title or description.
the housing benefit bedroom-tax issue the
‘Pickles Poll Tax’.
| RE-THINK WANTED: Campaigners, opposing a mandatory Direct Debit
council rent system, protest at Huddersfield Town Hall