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Council house rent hike on the cards in a bid to balance the budget with officials saying 'we need to generate sufficient income to continue to invest in housing improvements based on tenant priorities'


By Scott Maclennan

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Highland Council is looking at rent increases for social housing.
Highland Council is looking at rent increases for social housing.

COUNCILLORS are to be asked to agree to an increase in council house rents for the year ahead.

Highland Council’s housing and property committee is to consider imposing a rise of one per cent for 2022-23 that would see the average council house rent increase by 79p a week, to £80.04.

If agreed the rise would apply to all residential rents as well as service charges and Gypsy or Traveller site pitches.

The one per cent rise is the one being recommended to councillors for approval, with council papers saying it “would result in a balanced budget based on existing projections.”

However the projected impacts of rises of 1.5 per cent and two per cent are also laid out.

A public consultation based on the proposed one per cent rise was conducted earlier by the council, with 1567 people responding. Of those, 63 per cent preferred the one per cent option though 36 per cent preferred a 1.5 per cent increase in order to boost the maintenance budget.

According to council officers a 1.5 per cent rise would generate a budget surplus of £280,000 a year while a two per cent rise would realise a projected £560,000 in additional income.

The council’s head of housing and building maintenance, David Goldie, said affordability is a significant issue for council house tenants.

“Continuing financial difficulties are likely to be faced by many households because of Covid 19 and the wider economic situation,” he said. “There are likely to be increases in cost-of-living due to increasing fuel costs and general inflation.

“We need to generate sufficient income to continue to invest in housing improvements based on tenant priorities and future requirements, particularly around responding to the climate emergency.”

The committee is due to meet on Thursday of next week.

Related Story – Council rents set to rise in the Highlands


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