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Shower charge to be scrapped for Dundee sheltered housing residents

Dorothy McHugh, the secretary of Dundee Pensioner's Forum
Dorothy McHugh, the secretary of Dundee Pensioner's Forum

A controversial “shower tax” imposed on sheltered housing residents is to be scrapped.

Neighbourhood services committee convener Anne Rendall said the “re-profiling” of loans would free up the money to scrap the charge, which sees around 2,000 residents  paying between £5 and £10 more a week because they have a shower in the flat.

The charge was introduced 12 years ago in order to pay for the installation of showers.

Although the policy originally stated it would be for the lifetime of the tenancy, it was changed in 2011 to the “lifetime of the building.”.

It meant some residents were hit with the charge after moving into a new property where a shower had already been installed.

The SNP administration put forward proposals during the council’s rents consultation earlier this year which said the charge – dubbed the “shower tax” – could be scrapped if rents rose to compensate.

This proposal did win backing but triggered a campaign, led by the Dundee Pensioners Forum, to have have the charges dropped.

Secretary Dorothy McHugh said the charge mean some residents had paid for the cost of installing a shower several times over since 2007.

Councillor Anne Rendall said the local authority now intends to scrap the charge in April .

She said: “We’ve been working very hard over the last few months to identify ways of removing this charge. We gave a very clear public commitment and we will deliver on that.

“The discussions with council officers have been very positive and colleagues have also engaged with organisations such as the Dundee Federation of Tenants Association.

“I’m delighted for the 2,000 tenants affected that we have a very clear way of removing this charge. This is another example of the positive and proactive approach taken by this administration.

“Since the charge was introduced under the previous Labour Administration, it has not been one which was well received by tenants. Whilst the policy of installing showers was stopped, the charge continued and thankfully, we will now bring forward proposals that address that.”

Council leader John Alexander added: “I sat down with community representatives recently and would want to thank them for the way in which they have engaged.

“As I’ve said to them and anyone else who has asked, it has been our intention to remove the charge and finding the financial means to do this has been key. We have done this and I’m delighted that tenants will no longer face this charge from April if everyone is in agreement.

“£750,000 of monies have been freed up as a result of re-profiling the loans arrangements of the Housing Revenue Account and the proposals  mean this money could be used to ensure that within the base budget for the Housing Revenue Account, the shower charge is removed in full.”

Ms McHugh said: “We are absolutely delighted. Everybody could see this was an unfair charge.

“We are very grateful for all the support we have received.”

Labour group leader Kevin Keenan said: “I had written to the council to recommend this approach so if it is going to happen I am pleased.”

Morag McRattan.

Maryfield resident Morag McGrattan has paid nearly £3,000 in charges since moving into a council property 11 years ago.

She said: “I’m very pleased they are going to scrap it.

“It would have been nice if they’d scrapped it beforehand but it’s better than nothing.”

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