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Council rents in Swindon may go up by £2.60 a week
COUNCIL rent could go up by an average of £2.60 per week which campaigners say could have a devastating effect.
Swindon Council has been recommended to increase its rent for its 10,500 homes by 3.7 per cent next year which would equate to around a £2.60 extra charge for the average council home rent of £77 per week.
In a report written up for the Housing Advisory Forum, council officers said the cash would generate around £16.7m per year which would be invested back in to the properties to pay for refurbishments.
This money could fund up to 801 kitchens and bathrooms in 2014/15 and 13,752 in total over 10 years.
But members of the Swindon Tenants Voice, a group set up to allow Swindon Council tenants to provide feedback on matters relating to the provision of housing services, voted unanimously in December to urge the council to ignore this recommendation and instead only increase rents by that of inflation – which is approximately 2.2 per cent.
Brian Shakespeare, who is a member of STV and the chairman of Swindon Tenants’ Campaign Group, said this increase could drastically reduce someone’s quality of life when considered against the back-drop of price hikes already affecting people.
“In these dark and desperate times of austerity and belt tightening the tenant group want an inflation increase only,” said Brian, 73.
“But it appears the council’s officers have disregarded our views.
“It is yet to be decided whether or not they will increase the council tax. My fellow tenants find themselves in desperate times. As lots of people are aware, more people than ever are having to rely on foodbanks and discretionary housing grants applications have rocketed.
“Any council with a sense of responsibility towards their tenants or who is concerned about their welfare should only increase rates by inflation.”
He added the campaign against scrapping the controversial under-occupancy fee would continue throughout 2014.
“We have not forgotten about this fight to topple the unfair charge,” said Brian.
Councillor Russell Holland, cabinet member for finance, said money generated from rent was crucial for investment into the housing stock.
“I understand that tenants have concerns and these will be taken into account before any final decision is made by the council,” said Coun Holland, who represents St Margaret and South Marston.
“The essential issue is the money we have to spend on investment comes from the rent we receive. The lower the rent, the less money we have available to invest.
“Council tenants have the benefit of paying significantly less than the market rate.”
Last year, the council increased its rents by 2.6 per cent which worked out to around £1.93 per household. This was after a last minute U-turn when a 4.8 per cent price hike was scrapped.
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