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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 11 June 2009
High costs of temporary accommodation policy

• YOUR anonymous correspondent (Economics of auctions, Letters, May 28) shows an all too common lack of understanding about local government finance.
All expenditure on council housing lies within the ring-fenced housing revenue account (HRA).
This cannot be subsidised by the general fund, which pays for all other council expenditure, nor can it provide subsidy.
Many tenants, however, consider that the HRA does subsidise the general fund in the way that the public treats council estates that are private land, as a public resource particularly for exercising and toileting their dogs, or by encouraging their children to use play facilities.
Indeed, in assessing applications for private housing developments the planning department often wrongly considers the amenities on neighbouring estates as available to them.
As other contributors pointed out, nationally the HRA is used to subsidise the taxpayer by billions of pounds.
Neither as a council taxpayer nor as any other form of taxpayer is your correspondent paying for improvements to council homes.
Rather council tenants are subsidising him/her.
However the costs of providing expensive temporary accommodation for homeless families are met from the general fund.
Every council home that is lost through sales or by being put up for market rent means a homeless family remaining in that accommodation.
Thus the council’s current policy is putting an additional burden on every council taxpayer.
Additionally the social costs of keeping families with children in inadequate temporary accommodation, often for years, can be very high.
Those social costs all too often translate into real costs for the taxpayer in later years.
John Rolfe
Chair Hilgrove Estate Residents Association, NW8

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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