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Highland Council house rent could be set to rise

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland councillors will be asked to agree to a one per cent increase in social housing to balance the books.

The local authority's housing and property committee will consider three alternatives and barring a motion from a member will agree to a hike of anything from one to two per cent.

That equates to £0.79 a week meaning for the average council house coming to a total of £80.04 weekly and if agreed it would also apply all residential rents, service charges and gypsy or traveller site pitches

According to papers submitted to the committee the one per cent rise is considered optimal and 'would result in a balanced budget based on existing projections'.

A rise of 1.5 per cent – equivalent to £1.19 – bringing average rent to £80.44 would generate a surplus of £280,000 a year.

While a two per cent rise would see average rents rise to £80.83 by adding £1.58 a week to people’s bills and generate a surplus of £560,000.

However, the one per cent is considered optimal after a public consultation based on the option above with 1567 people responding.

Of those 63 per cent preferred the one per cent option and 36 per cent preferred a rent increase of 1.5 per cent as it could increase the maintenance budget.

According to David Goldie, the council's head of housing and building maintenance, rent 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. We need to continue to deliver services at least at current levels.”

The matter will come before the committee for a decision next Thursday.

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