Kingston’s council houses need major investment.

In chatting to council tenants in my advice surgeries or when I knock on doors, I hear complaints about everything from basic repairs to damp, from lifts not working to broken communal doors.

Yet tenants equally say they want to stay with the council.

Indeed, the option of switching to a housing association as landlord is unpopular, even though Government rules mean this is the only certain way for new investment.

So what’s to do?

A major obstacle to the investment needed is something I call the “tenant tax”.

This requires councils like Kingston - with less debt and better council homes - to subsidise other councils. Thus Kingston Council last year had to pay nearly £7 million to the Treasury who passed it on to other councils.

In other words, local tenants saw around 31p in every £1 of rent paid going towards maintenance of council houses elsewhere despite repairs needed here!

I have argued against this unfair, crazy system for several years, but was told it can’t be altered.

Then last month Ministers suddenly changed their minds and announced they will scrap this system.

Great? A major victory? Well, maybe.

It really depends on how they scrap the system – as one Government idea would see Kingston given other councils’ debts, which could make things worse!

So the consultation on this reform is critical to thousands of local people. Getting views and reading and analysing it will be one of my top priorities for the summer when Parliament is in recess.