Rotherham Council tenants set for rent increase

A four per cent rent increase could be on the cards for council tenants in Rotherham as part of the annual budget proposals.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 5:58 pm

The increase, which puts a one per cent rise on top of an inflation figure of three per cent, would add an average of £3.09 per week to rent bills.

This is the maximum that rents can be increased in 2022/23 in line with Government policy.

The proposals were presented to Rotherham Council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday December 15, before they are presented to cabinet on December 20.

As well as the rent increase, 1,270 residents who are part of community heating schemes also face a rising bill.

If approved as part of next year’s budget, the increase would raise the average weekly council rent from £75.45 to £78.54.

Councillor Amy Brookes, cabinet member for housing told the meeting that the rise would allow the council to “invest in the services in the way that we want to support the housing growth and continue to deliver with less borrowing than we would otherwise need.”

As well as the rent increase, 1,270 residents who are part of community heating schemes also face a rising bill.

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The council has proposed to increase the price per kilowatt hour (kWh) from 6.28p to 7.22p – a 15 per cent hike.

A report to the committee states that district heating charges would need to increase by up to 50 per cent, to cover “unprecedented increases in prices for gas and electricity”.

The scheme resulted in an overall deficit of £62,000 to the council during this financial year, and a deficit of around £80,000 is expected next year.

As part of the proposals, shared ownership rents could increase by 5.4 per cent, and a two per cent increase in charges for garages and parking spaces, communal facilities, cooking gas and laundry facilities.

A housing revenue account report states that Right to Buy and the lifting of the debt cap means there is “potential for an ongoing reduction in cash flow to fund a potential increase in debt.”

It adds that new build housing schemes have to “at least break even over the long term.”

It also adds that the average arrears of tenants in receipt of Universal Credit was much higher – at end of September 2021 the average arrears balance for a tenant on Universal Credit was £142.23 compared to £27.02 for other tenants.

The report also proposed a further £9.2 m investment to build 1,000 new council homes by 2026.