The Interim Section 151 Officer presented the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Rent Setting 2023/24 report for Members’ consideration.
The Committee was informed that traditionally yearly increases to rent for Council houses had been set in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1 per cent. However, given the current high level of inflation, the Government had announced that Councils and Housing Associations could increase rent by 3, 5 or 7 per cent.
Members were asked to note that the rent for Council housing would be set in a context where inflation as well as the pay award to staff were both having a signficant impact on the Council’s costs. There were also likely to be increasing costs arising from new duties placed on housing providers in respect of the management of damp and mould in properties, alongside other compliance issues. To try to minimise the impact on the financial position of the authority, Officers were suggesting that rents should increase by 7 per cent per year over the following two years.
The proposals detailed in the report were subsequently discussed by Members and it was noted that even with a 7 per cent increase in rents, Council tenants would still be paying some of the lowest rents for housing in the Borough. There was a lot of work that the Council’s Repairs and Maintenance team needed to undertake on properties and there needed to be the funding available to help pay for repairs, some of which were vital to ensure that homes continued to comply with safety standards.
Reference was made to the tenants who would be paying rent for properties. Members noted that tenants in receipt of benefits could receive funding to help cover this rent increase as per the Chancellor’s Statement. Tenants in employment, who might already be struggling with the cost of living, were not necessarily eligible to receive this support and concerns were raised about the impact that increases to rents might have on people in this position. Officers explained that when the Council sent information about new Council Tax rates in the spring to residents, information would be included about support available to help manage the cost of living.
the actual average rent increase for 2023/24 be set as 7%.