Council House Tenants in Caerphilly County Borough Face 6.7% Rent Increase Next Spring
Council house tenants in Caerphilly County Borough could see their monthly rent charges go up by 6.7% next spring.
Failing to raise rents could have a “detrimental” effect on the council’s ability to maintain its housing stock, and could lead to more borrowing in future, a new report warns.
But one councillor warned the council was “moving forward too quickly” and “a lot of people are going to be put under a lot of pressure” by the rise.
Typically, the average tenant’s rent will increase by £6.68 per week if the plan goes ahead.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has more than 10,000 households on the books of its housing service Caerphilly Homes.
The 6.7% rise proposed is the maximum the council would be allowed to increase rents, in line with Welsh Government rules preventing rent outstripping inflation.
The average weekly rent charged by Caerphilly Homes is currently £99.72, according to the report, which also found the council was charging the third-lowest rent of any local authority in Wales.
More than three-quarters (77%) of the council’s tenants receive some sort of financial support towards their rent, and any increase in weekly costs will be covered by housing benefits or Universal Credit.
But at a meeting of Caerphilly Council’s housing and environment scrutiny committee on Tuesday (November 21), there was concern other council tenants could be hit hard by the rent rises.
Judith Pritchard, a Plaid Cymru councillor on the committee, said she was “worried about what’s going to happen to the other 23%”.
Committee member Martyn James, also Plaid, questioned why the council was going ahead with a rent increase when UK inflation levels were slowing down.
He said the council was acting “too quickly” and would put tenants under “a lot of pressure”.
“I can’t see how this is going to help anyone,” Cllr James told the meeting, adding that he would not support the rent rise and urged the the council to “rethink” the proposal.
Head of housing Nick Taylor-Williams said council rents last year had stayed nearly 4% below UK inflation levels, meaning the local authority’s Housing Revenue Account lost out on more than £2 million.
“We’re always playing catch-up,” he added.
The committee members voted 11-1 in favour of recommending the proposed rent rises to the council’s cabinet, which will review the plan before a final decision is made.
The 6.7% rent rises will also cover tenants of council-owned garages. During the meeting, several committee members suggested the council should sell off garages in areas of low demand or have them demolished and the land redeveloped for housing.
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