Five per cent rent rise

PEOPLE living in council houses will see their rent increase by almost five per cent from April.

At an East Renfrewshire council meeting officials voted in favour of the plan that will affect 3,100 people.

It follows a series of consultation meetings held last year discussing the impact of a rise.

Representatives of tenants and residents’ associations voiced their opinions at the housing services liaison group.

ERC housing convener councillor Danny Devlin said: “I fully recognise in the current economic climate any rent increase needs to be kept to an absolute minimum.

“All options have been explored and every effort has been made to keep the proposed rent increase as low as possible.

“The proposed increase is considered to be the lowest necessary to allow the housing service to continue to invest in its housing stock and to meet the Scottish housing quality standard by 2015, whilst continuing to provide a high level of service”.

He stressed: “I know this increase is above the rate of inflation, and therefore unwelcome, but it should be noted that in 2010/11 East Renfrewshire council rent levels were well below the national average for Scotland.

“In addition the council’s rent is lower than that of any social rented housing provider in East Renfrewshire”.

The 4.9 per cent increase will also apply to lock-ups and garage sites held on the housing revenue account.

At the meeting independent councillor Ralph Robertson raised his concerns, saying: “Food inflation is at six% just now.

“The price of gas and electricity is up by seven to eight per cent.

“This rent increase will put pressure on families and those who are struggling will be put under even more pressure.

“So we should look in the future to reduce the rent rises”.

Tory councillor Gordon McCaskill added: “I proposed 4.5% rate in December 2009 which was roundly slated by the opposition.

“However, now the council themselves have had to raise the rent to service their own debt while if we had just gone with my rate rise in the first place that would have prevented some of the problems.

“But it is the view of the opposition the administration has enough problems already without us adding to them so we will support it”.