Council tenants to benefit from rent reduction

Press Release: 24/11/2015

Many council tenants in Winchester will benefit from a 1% reduction in their rent from April 2016 as a result of proposals in the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

Final details will not be known until the Bill becomes law early in 2016, but Winchester City Council is preparing for the change now and councillors will discuss the impact at the Cabinet (Housing) meeting on 30 November.

On average tenants can expect to save just over £1 a week in 2016/17 - £53.56 for the year - from the change in a policy that is planned to last for four years. Tenants whose rent is partly paid by housing benefit are unlikely to see any reduction in the amount they will pay in future.
The change will not affect any tenants whose rent is paid in full by housing benefit. Some types of property or tenancy are likely to be exempted from the new policy with more details on the exceptions expected soon. These are likely to include temporary accommodation, extra care and sheltered schemes. Councillors will discuss what future rent policy to adopt for these exceptions at their meeting on 30 November

The new rent policy does require the Council to revisit its Housing Business Plan as the rent reduction is forecast to cost the housing service around £11m by March 2020. Councillors will consider possible savings on 30 November to ensure key services will continue as now.
Tenants will be advised of their new rents in early March 2016 in preparation for the new rent year.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:

The priority of the Housing Service is to continue to provide a high quality management service and to protect front-line maintenance and new-build programmes while also supporting this rent reduction which will be welcomed by many tenants.