Saturday, 12 June 2010

And so it begins

The Labour government came under a lot of fire - some say rightly - for over-legislating and creating too much paperwork in many aspects of everyday life.  Now the first signs are emerging that the new coalition may be reversing the trend, but at some cost to those who most need protection.

A landlords register and new regulation of letting agents were to be introduced by the previous Labour administration but the new government has scrapped the plans.

Interestingly, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) said cutting the plans would aid rogue landlords. Citizen's Advice also criticised the decision.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said the sector was already governed by a well-established framework.

But renting a flat, say, is the only way many hard-working people can afford to put a roof over their heads. These people - the unmarried, childless but fully employed and extremely hard-working  - are the very people we need in the economy and we ought to be protecting their interests, if only to avoid the massive costs to the community incurred of them hitching up with someone, having ten children and then applying for benefits and housing from the local council.

Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said: "A great fear is that a lot of agents who were looking at tidying up their practices will now feel they can run amok and add to the poor reputation we have at the moment."

What is particularly ironic, however, is what the Tory housing minister added. He told the BBC  the government wanted to focus instead on increasing home ownership, a rather odd aim with mortgages beyond the reach of most single workers.  Of course, the Tories will always look after those who stand to make money out of others, and those who slavishly support Tory policies should remember that their history has always been thus.

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