MPs are cooking up a plan to allow councils to insist landlords fit out kitchens for tenants on benefits to improve their diets.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger says too many low-paid tenants eat processed food and takeaways because landlords fail to provide kitchens with cookers and fridges so they can keep fresh food and cook their own meals
In a report on food poverty in Britain, the group chair, Labour’s Frank Field claimed many landlords only offer tenants on benefits a microwave for cooking and many had no fridge, saucepans or other cooking utensils.
In one of 77 recommendations, the report urges councils to monitor all private furnished letting homes to make sure they offer a fridge and at least a two-ring electric hob to all tenants on benefits.
Councils would only pay housing benefits if the new standard was met.
If the proposed rule is broken, the group wants councils to have a power to fine landlords.
The report ignores the fact that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) withdrew white goods tax breaks for landlords in April 2013.
If the measure goes ahead, landlords renting out homes to tenants on benefits would have to pay for the white goods and could not reclaim the cost as a property business expense unless they were integrated kitchen appliances.
“Some food banks expressed concerns to the inquiry that some of their clients do not, or cannot, cook the contents of their food parcels at home because they lack basic cooking equipment and facilities,” says the report.
“We heard how some landlords may offer tenants only a microwave or one rings on a cooker while calling these facilities a kitchen for rent purposes.”