Rents are truly affordable only if they are linked to earnings

Campaigners gathered outside Hove Town Hall
Campaigners gathered outside Hove Town Hall

Demonstrators have urged the city council to ensure all newly-built council homes are affordable.

Demonstrators have urged Brighton and Hove City Council to ensure all newly-built council homes are genuinely affordable.

Displaying placards comparing wages with council rents, supporters of the Living Rent Campaign gathered outside Hove Town Hall before a meeting on Wednesday of the council's housing committee.

The campaigners say a living rent would be linked to tenants' incomes - rather than the market-based figures the council suggests.

The council's proposed rents on newly-built homes range from about £670 to £969 a month. The campaign says an affordable rent for Brighton and Hove would be an average of £564 a month, based on a third of the average income of people working in the city.

Neil Harding, 45, a street cleaner, said he knew of people working for Cityclean who lived in vans because they were struggling to afford market rents.

He said: “And our wages aren't even as bad as people working in restaurants. God knows how they do it.”

Last November, councillors said they agreed in principle to supporting a living rent for new-build council homes.

David Gibson, the Living Rent Campaign coordinator, said: “There is more than enough money to implement a living rent from planned efficiency savings, so now is the time to put principles into practice.”

Speaking to the housing committee, Mr Gibson said: “People on low incomes deserve an opportunity to rent something that isn't going to swallow up all that income, as the so-called affordable and some private sector rents are doing nowadays.”

Bill Randall, the committee chair, responded that the council would look more closely at the figures to see if linking rents for new-builds to income was possible.

He said: “If there is a way we can bring the rents down to that level, I would certainly like to see that happen.”