A newspaper in Liverpool has sharply criticised the government for refusing to allow the city council to continue a huge landlord licensing scheme it had operated for five years.
Approval from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is required for landlord licensing schemes that extend over 20 per cent or more of a council’s area, and Liverpool’s Labour administration wanted to continue with a city-wide scheme.
This was recently declined by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Now the Liverpool Echo has taken the unusual step of speaking out about the issue, saying the scheme - which would apply to all 55,000 privately rented properties in the city - was justified.
“The statistics are there for all to see” claims the paper.
“Since 2015, 70 per cent of inspected properties have been in breach of their licence condition, uncovering serious hazards such as fire, electrical safety and excess cold … The council has carried out over 37,000 compliance actions, issued more than 2,500 legal and fixed penalty notices and prosecuted almost 250 landlords … The impact has meant that Liverpool alone has been responsible for 389 per cent of the 460 per cent national rise in prosecutions between 2012 and 2018” it continues.
The paper links the licensing issue to a broader attack on successive Conservative governments’ approaches to Liverpool.
“This was a clear example of a cash-strapped council, devastated by a decade of government cuts, finding a creative and positive way of being able to look after its own people and improve its own local area” says the Echo, which says: “Liverpool is well used to taking repeated beatings from Conservative governments.”
And the editorial concludes: “In the immediate aftermath of the Tories' General Election victory in December, there were immediate fears expressed in Liverpool about what that would mean for a city that consistently votes Labour and has bravely rallied against its treatment by Conservatives in the years.
“The answer now appears to be abundantly clear. Liverpool wasn't ever expecting much help from Boris Johnson's government - but in reality things could be about to get much worse.”
The city’s Labour mayor is reported to be considering an appeal against the MHCLG decision.