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Cameron quizzed on millionaire Tory chum's plans to hit housing estate families with rent hike

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Cameron quizzed on millionaire Tory chum's plans to hit housing estate families with rent hike

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Housing

Cameron quizzed on millionaire Tory chum's plans to hit housing estate families with rent hike Cameron quizzed on millionaire Tory chum's plans to hit housing estate families with rent hike

David Cameron has been asked to share his thoughts on the activities of a fellow Tory MP, who plans to drive rents up for struggling families on a London estate that he owns.

Labour's Diane Abbott quizzed the prime minister this week about Richard Benyon's family firm buying up the New Era estate in Hackney - and the company's plans to put rental costs up.

Abbot, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: "The prime minister will be aware of the housing crisis in London, but is he aware of the distinctive contribution of his colleague, the hon. member for Newbury? Through his £110 million family firm, he has bought up the New Era estate in Hackney."

Abbott then asked if seeing families in Hackney face seeing their rents driven up, eviction and being put on the street as a consequence of Benyon's activities were the prime minister’s idea of "compassionate conservatism".

Totally avoiding the question, Cameron offered: "What I would say to the hon. lady is that we all know that we need to see more houses being built.

"We have seen 41,000 affordable starts over the last year and more than a fifth of those have been in London. We need more housebuilding and more houses being provided. We will then see more affordable rents in the social sector and in the private sector."

In statement, Richard Benyon (pictured), Britain's richest MP, said: "In light of the recent media coverage concerning me and my family, I would like to clarify a couple important points relating to the acquisition of the New Era Estate in Hackney.

"Firstly, I would like to stress that I am a Member of Parliament, a full time job to which I am totally committed and I am not involved in the management of The Benyon Estate, or the New Era Estate.

"Secondly, after two years of being for sale the New Era Estate was recently acquired by an American private equity firm.  Benyon Estate, which is managed by my brother, has been appointed to manage the estate and is taking a minority interest (less than 10%) in the properties. 

"There are no plans to evict any residents, and the Benyon Estate’s consortium partners have been open in explaining to the tenants the proposals to carry out much needed improvements, combined with the need to increase rents to reasonable levels to fund these improvements.  I am certain that all parties to the consortium fully appreciate residents’ concerns and are willing to discuss individual cases, whilst also working with other local representatives."

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