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Outrage at raid on rent

PUBLISHED: 15:50 14 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:44 23 August 2010

A COUNCIL leader has accused the government of stealing from the poor by giving money raised from housing rent to other authorities. Gravesham Borough Council is one of 60 local authority landlords which oppose the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidi

A COUNCIL leader has accused the government of "stealing from the poor" by giving money raised from housing rent to other authorities.

Gravesham Borough Council is one of 60 local authority landlords which oppose the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidies.

They plan to submit joint evidence to the government showing the effect of the scheme, where rent collected in Gravesham is distributed to other authorities.

In Gravesham £6m of the £21m raised annually is held by the government and given to about 50 other authorities, which use the money to provide housing services. If the money was reclaimed by Gravesham it would be used to raise standards of council housing and help make up a £21 million shortfall over the next three years.

Leader Mike Snelling said: "Against the background of this shortfall, we desperately need that rent money to improve the homes of our deserving tenants. I regard this as nothing short of government theft. They are acting like Robin Hood in reverse - stealing from the poor."

But the government says the only alternatives to the subsidies would be higher taxes or cuts in services. Government experts are now carrying out a full review of the current system.

A communities and local government department spokesperson said: "We are working with a wide range of experts and practitioners to find a way forward for council housing finance that is affordable and fair to all through our wide-ranging review of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy System,.

"The review will report to ministers in spring 2009, after which there will be a period of consultation.

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