Local councillor Robert Cooke has put his head above the parapet and asked Hastings Borough Council to give assurances that charitable organisations will not have to pay the proposed licensing tax which the council is set to impose on private landlords.
Having posed the question at a recent meeting of HBC Cllr Cooke says the response from the lead member for housing was an emphatic refusal to give any such assurance. Cllr Cooke said: “Labour’s plan to introduce a Private Landlord Licensing Scheme could have huge consequences for the income of charities, such as Hastings charity Magdalen and Lasher, which works to prevent poverty and care for the elderly. This is the law of unintended consequences at work. While I am sure that Labour does not mean to tax charitable organisations, as things currently stand that is exactly what they will be doing.
“These charities will be faced with a stark choice of putting up tenants’ rents or losing money that otherwise would have been used for the good causes they support and undertake, It will hit them hard. I urge the council to find a way not to hit the most vulnerable in society in this way. Concern has already been raised by tenants in the private sector that they will face increases on their rent of as much as £50 a year if this policy goes through.”
A spokesman for HBC said all decisions on the scheme, which is set to see landlords charged around £415, will be made on March 30, adding: “At this stage no definite decisions have been made. Members are still working through the consultation responses and will be taking a decision on all aspects of the licensing issue at the end of the month.”