Council Housing Rents to Mirror Housing Associations

Winchester City Council's Cabinet has agreed an average rent increase of 4.99%, with effect from April 1, 2006. This increase is in line with government guidelines and reflects inflation at 2.7% and changes to the government formula which now brings all council rents in line with housing association rents.

This is the fourth year of rent restructuring, introduced by the government to bring rents for council housing and other social housing providers more in line.  Changes this year to the formula mean that all housing providers have to calculate rents using an identical formula.  The system is being phased in and will be fully implemented by 2011.

Changes to the Government subsidy system and also the Supporting People regime have brought increased pressure to the Housing Revenue Account and Cabinet also agreed that support and service charges at sheltered schemes should be adjusted to reflect actual costs.

The 4.99% increase represents an average rise of £4.07 per week for a three bedroom property. Cabinet also agreed a 3.2% increase for garage rents and new service charges for those tenants occupying homes where communal facilities are shared by residents.

Tenant representatives from TACT (Tenants and Council Together), the Council's district-wide tenant consultative group, who were consulted on this year's calculations, realised that the Council had no choice but to apply the formula laid down by the ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister).   However their spokesmen said "TACT as always is concerned that tenants who have no other option but to pay the rent increases still get the best value and service for the increased rent they have to pay to bring them in line with housing associations."

Cllr Dominic Hiscock, the Portfolio Holder for Housing said "Increasing rents in line with the national formula cannot be avoided.  The Government system for financing housing also takes over a third of all rent collected away from Winchester to fund housing elsewhere in the country.  Despite these pressures, the Council is committed to providing a high quality housing service and meeting tenants aspirations for decent homes."