CAMPAIGNERS have lost their fight for ‘freedom of choice’ over changes to council rent payments.
Members of Kirklees tenants’ and residents’ associations protested at plans to rip up tenancy agreements and make changes to how more than 23,000 households pay their rent.
Currently tenants can pay via their bank account, the Post Office, pay-points, in shops or council offices but that’s set to change in April and the only payment choice will be mandatory Direct Debit.
Richard Bastow made the deputation to Kirklees Cabinet as 30 people waved placards outside Huddersfield Town Hall.
He said: “This is about freedom of choice, we’re being offered no choice in the way we pay our rent and we believe this is wrong.”
He told Cabinet members: “You should offer more than one choice. Paypal, your chosen provider, allows collection via more than one method so why are you restricting it to just Direct Debit?
“For many people going out to pay their rent is the only social interaction they get.”
Brenda Bodenham criticised the council and Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing for a “threatening” letter telling tenants they face eviction if they fail to sign up to Direct Debit and fall into arrears.
The sub-postmaster of Honley Post Office said: “I had a 96-year-old lady come to my counter in tears and trembling because she received the letter.
“Cabinet, I ask you, how can you treat the most vulnerable and treasured citizens like this?
“I understand there are costs to be saved, trust me there are ways to save a lot of money, but taking away the right to choose, is that far more important than a penny-pinching exercise?”
Two other people made representations against the council’s proposals, but the Cabinet members confirmed they would not reassess their plans.