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Former minister calls on government to cap service charge rises

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Former minister Gavin Williamson has called for the government to cap service charge increases and stop a “collective scam” being played on social housing residents.

Williamson said housing associations are hiking service charges as a way to get around rent increase limits, while making tenants foot the bill for longer-term improvements that drive up the value of properties for owners.

Housing secretary Michael Gove can make changes without legislation, and should enforce a cap along with a code of practice on housing providers, said Williamson.

“To me, it feels like a bit of a collective scam, that housing associations have felt they can get away with,” Williamson told The Big Issue magazine.

“You seem to see a systemic approach by housing associations, where all of their service charges are considerably above what the rent increases are. To me, it seems to be almost a quiet policy decision that housing associations have taken: We can’t get extra money through here, so we’re going to see if we can get money elsewhere.

“It seems to be getting increasingly to a point where anything that is done to a building, this is almost then a service charge.”

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