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Council house rents to rise in Highland

Issued: 24 Jan 2007

Members of the Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee today agreed to increase the Council's housing debt to keep Council rent increases to just under 5%.

From April 2007 to March 2008, Highland Council's housing tenants will see their rents rise by 4.9%. The increase also applies to service charges, garage and garage site rentals, hostel rentals, homeless charges, rechargeable repairs and Gypsy/Traveller pitches, except charges for energy which will follow market rates of inflation.

In recent years council house rent increases have been set at the Retail Price Index (RPI) + 1%, and the Council has funded a Capital Programme of around £14million annually, largely funded through income generated through sales of council houses under the Right to Buy.
The Council is now faced with the lower incomes as a result of a recent, significant drop in council house sales at the same time as its investment requirements have increased, as currently it is required to improve all of its houses to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015. This forces the Council to consider taking on new borrowing to fund investment.

To make up for the drop in house sale receipts, members were asked to decide between a higher 7.4% increase in rents with a resultant lower borrowing figure of £1.976million to the Council or a lower 4.9% rent increase with a higher £2.966 million borrowing figure. Members approved the lower rent increase to tenants funded through borrowing .

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chair of The Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee said: "I am pleased councillors supported the lower rent increase today. I know they are acutely aware of the effect of large increases in rent on those with low or fixed incomes. The Council will also review the uptake of housing benefit to ensure that those that are in most need and are eligible for assistance are receiving it.

"I am also seeking a meeting with Rhona Brankin, MSP, Minister for Communities to discuss the possibility of the Council receiving an extension to the time it has to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, housing debt write off and funding the Common Housing Register with the Scottish Executive."

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