Rent hike for Stevenage council tenants

Council tenants in Stevenage will see rent rise by an average of 5.1 per cent from April

Council tenants in Stevenage will see rent rise by an average of 5.1 per cent from April - Credit: Archant

RENT will rise by more than five per cent for a town’s social tenants.

Members of Stevenage Borough Council approved the 5.1 per cent average increase at a meeting on Wednesday night.

From April, council tenants will have to pay an extra £4.53 a week on average, equating to £235.56 a year.

The rise, which is calculated each year using the Government’s rent restructuring policy formula, is down on last year’s increase of 6.7 per cent.

Borough councillor Ann Webb, executive member for housing, said: “This decision was about balancing the need to invest in upgrading our homes, while maintaining a low rental rate to support families in the tough financial times we are experiencing. The rise puts rent for the average council property at £96 per week, which compared with an average of £196 per week for privately rented accommodation, still represents excellent value for our tenants.

“We will continue to do all we can to protect tenants both in terms of pricing and our policies. We understand that our properties are not just council houses, they’re much-loved homes and that’s why we’re not proposing to introduce fixed term tenancies as part of our new housing tenancy policy.”

Borough councillors also unanimously voted through a proposal which will see all council tax support claimants – barring pensioners – pay the first 8.5 per cent of the annual bill before receiving benefits.

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The support scheme also includes measures to abolish council tax exemption for second homes and reduce the exemption for empty properties, in a bid to meet a £735,000 shortfall following a reduction in Government funding.

Councillors spoke out against the cuts but said as a result they had no choice but to approve the scheme, which comes into effect from April and replaces a national Government framework.

For reaction see next week’s Comet.