CASH strapped council tenants in Swinton, Rawmarsh and Wath face an average rent increase of £4.30 per week over the next year.
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet agreed the rent hike today, meaning that the average council house rent for 2013 to 2014 will be £73.81, a rise of 6.19 per cent over a 49 week period. Coun Rose McNeely, Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods, said that the authority had little choice but to increase its rents, adding that this is a Government requirement to bring all social housing rents in line. Mrs McNeely said: “I know only too well that many people in council properties across the borough are facing a very challenging time and that they will be looking to us to constrain any rent increase.
“We have done what we can, but our historically-low rents have resulted in us having to increase them year-on-year to meet the Government’s rent convergence target in 2015/16.” The cabinet heard that if the council failed to follow the Governments converge requirements it could lead to significant financial implications for the authority, and have a major impact on the resources the authorities has to maintain and improve its housing.
It was stated that every one per cent reduction below the proposed rent increase results in a loss of rental income to the council of £676,000. Coun McNeely said that the authority was committed to improving housing stock to provide good quality housing for its tenants. “In recent years we have seen a massive investment of £300 million and we will continue this, while at the same time providing good quality accommodation for a fair rent,” she added. “We have a real need to invest in our stock to make sure it is of the standard that our tenants quite rightly expect. This year we will be investing an additional £8.4 million in our capital programme to meet the need for additional housing maintenance. It is only right that as people are asked to pay more for their homes, they see a return for that additional rent in better housing maintenance.” Rent levels within the council’s recently-built 132 energy-efficient homes will be set at an average £98.39. This is a lower rate of increase as the council has more discretion over homes that have already met the Government’s rent convergence policy.