On Saturday morning a charming new year missive from Hackney Homes landed on my doormat.
Dated 27 December 2011 (letters from them always take a long time to arrive, I think they must incubate on Mare Street) it announces an average rent increase from April of 7.08%. I am sure there are some Hackney residents who will recieve a 7% pay increase this year, but they will all live in new builds in the borough, not social housing. Indeed for the security work I do, basic rates of pay have remained the same since 2008.
Hackney Council loves to blame everyone but itself for large rent increases, telling us rent needs to change 'to achieve the government formula' by 2015/6. Just to illustrate this is nonsense, consider the increase in service costs Hackney has also implemented - an eye watering 6.1% for block cleaning, estate cleaning, communal lighting and concierge services. There are not many certainities in life, but one is that Hackney's concierges will not be getting a 6% pay increase - the Council is simply milking its residents again.
All of this is of course accompanied by a school dinners approach to services - you get what you are given. Under the Decent Homes programme I got a new front door. I did not ask for a new front door, I did not need a new front door, and there was nothing wrong with my old front door - but it was changed anyway. A government standard needs to be met, and someone I have never met decried that was one of the ways of doing it. If only the money spent on a front door had actually been spent on insulation in my kitchen, my flat might be warmer, and fuel bills lower. Still, why ask tenants what they need doing? We only pay the rent!
There are not many certainities in life - but one is that 2012 will see a lot more of this type of nonsense.