'Do you think that's right?': Mayor of Barnet receives more than £28,000 in housing benefits (From Times Series)
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'Do you think that's right?': Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner receives more than £28,000 in housing benefits
Under-fire Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner has received more than £28,000 in housing benefits from tenants, it was claimed today.
Evidence showing exactly how much money Councillor Rayner made through claiming housing benefits on behalf of his tenants was brought to the attention of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, during today's London Assembly Question Time.
The Hale ward councillor owns 15 properties in the Colindale area with his wife, Susan, and four more through his company, S&H Housing Limited.
Freedom of Information requests have revealed S&H Limited has received a total of £25,694 from Barnet Borough Council in housing benefit, as well as £2,769 from Barnet Homes, and another £3,000 incentive payment for taking on social tenants.
He has never declared an interest relating to his role as a landlord, despite chairing meetings discussing major changes to private landlords' payments and financial incentives for those taking on social tenants.
Addressing the Mayor of London today, Barnet GLA member Andrew Dismore said: "What makes it worse, of course, isn't just that he's been making all this money out of housing benefit - the fact that when he chaired the committee that approved this agreement for rent deposits and landlord incentives on 22 May 2013, he didn't make a declaration of interest.
"Nor did he make any declaration of interest when they switched the housing policy from the social sector to the private sector on 12 July 2010, nor in December 2012, nor did he declare a non-pecuniary interest in Jan 2014.
"He still says it's a non-pecuniary interest, even though he's making all this money out of housing benefit from the council and Barnet Homes. Do you think that's right?"
But the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said Barnet Council's monitoring officer is investigating the matter and it would be "inappropriate" for him to comment until this has been concluded.
This is not the first time Cllr Rayner has come under scrutiny - last month, Boris Johnson admitted Councillor Hugh Rayner's behaviour had been "prima facie illegal" following evidence about the "unfair" way he treats his tenants, who all receive housing benefit.
Mr Dismore had told Boris Johnson that Cllr Rayner was not part of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, and that he drafted 12-month contracts which permitted rent increases by any amount and at any time during the year. He also paid an unannounced visit to a tenant at 10pm asking for the new lease to be signed - even though his contract said adequate notice must be given.
Cllr Hugh Rayner has declined to comment.