Swindon Borough Council tenants are set to face a massive rent hike this spring.

Residents living in homes and flats owned by the local authority will be asked to pay an extra 7.7 per cent rent from the start of April.

The council’s Labour cabinet has approved the increase, which takes the average rent paid by tenants to £97.81 per week across a year.

The increase for the mean average rent payer is £6.99 a week.

The cabinet member for housing Councillor Janine Howarth said the increase was based on the government formula of inflation plus one per cent, with the inflation figure being the Consumer Prices Index in September 2023 of 6.7 per cent.

Cllr Howarth said the increase would allow some repair programmes to start after having been delayed last year: “Last year the increase was smaller. The inflation rate was so high that it was decided not to use the formula, so we were allowed to set a five per cent increase.

“That left the Housing Revenue Accost with a £5 million shortfall and that meant that there were some repair and improvement programmes which could not be started.”

Cllr Howard said most tenants who expressed an opinion were happy with the increase this year: “We had consultation with tenants and said we could set a rent increase below 7.7 per cent but not go above it. But they agreed this was the best way forward to get things moving with the planned improvements in place.”

The money the council will spend on repairs has jumped from the £15.8m budget in 2023/24 to £19.3m for the coming year.

Cllr Howarth said this reflects additional costs associated with two projects to address a backlog of repairs, and another to eradicate damp and mould across the housing stock. Higher inflation also continues to impact the cost of both contractors and materials used on day-to-day repairs.

She said: “We are at about 40 per cent in our stock survey looking at damp and mould and we need to carry on with that."

Although rents are going up, there is good news for those living in sheltered and supported housing – service charges are dropping.

The charge for private use in sheltered housing will drop from £18.46 to £17.55.

Cllr Howard said the council has renegotiated its gas and electricity contract for a cheaper deal.