More than 14,000 council house tenants in Norwich look set to have their rents hiked by between £16 and £22 a month from April.

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"It is with a heavy heart that we are recommending this rent increase... We recognise that people are facing all kinds of pressures and to increase rents by this amount is not something we want to do, but we really have no option."

Brenda Arthur, deputy leader of Norwich City Council.

Norwich City Council’s cabinet is next week set to agree an average rent increase of just under 7.6pc for the city’s 15,000-plus council tenants.

And that means almost 90pc of council tenants will have to find between £4 and £5.50 extra each week to pay for their rents.

The level of rent is set by the government, but last year the city council successfully lobbied Whitehall to keep the rent increase down – so the average rent for council tenants is currently £60 a week.

The city council had spearheaded an attempt to convince housing minister Grant Shapps to think again over the guideline rent increase for this year. Norwich’s MPs supported an attempt by Brenda Arthur, deputy leader of Norwich City Council and cabinet member for housing, to convince the government to put in place an alternative plan.

Councils pay rents to central government, which then redistributes the cash according to those most in need.

New government proposals will see councils keep all rent they collect, but that has yet to come in, so in the meantime the city council says the calculation used for this year means an extra £2.8m of rent from tenants will need to go into the government pot.

Mrs Arthur wrote to Mr Shapps and pointed out that the government stood to gain a £280m windfall through the rent increase.

She said that if the government’s receipt was capped at £100m, that would have allowed the rent increase to be pegged back.

But the government is pressing ahead with its proposed hike and the city council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday next week to reluctantly agree the increase of an average of £4.70 a week.

Mrs Arthur said: “It is with a heavy heart that we are recommending this rent increase. We did write to Mr Shapps and got a letter back from one of his Liberal Democrat colleagues saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

“We did our best and if they had gone with it, we could have kept the rents down to a 3.1pc increase. They said they had take account of all taxpayers, which was effectively them saying this money is going into a communal pot which is what we have argued against.

“We recognise that people are facing all kinds of pressures and to increase rents by this amount is not something we want to do, but we really have no option.

“If we do not then it would have a knock-on effect on our 30 year plan for social housing and it would mean we would not be able to meet our liabilities for maintenance in the future. We are not happy about it, but we have no choice.”

Geoff Lowe, chairman of the Norwich Citywide Tenants’ Board, which represents council house tenants, said the board had also written to Grant Shapps and had only had an acknowledgement. He said they would continue to lobby the government.

“The problem, as usual, is that it’s those that are just over the borderline of getting benefits are really going to feel it. All I can say is the Citywide Board tried, but did not succeed. But we will keep on trying.”

Just over 60pc of council house tenants get housing benefit, which will increase to cover the rent increase, so those who do not get benefits will be hardest hit by the increase.

A further 127 council tenants who live in what are known as general fund dwellings - council homes which are more valuable than the majority of council homes - are likely to see an average increase of 7.66pc, which is £5.35 a week, on their rent.

• What do you think of the rent increase? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

10 comments

  • Just how have Norwich City Council got the audacity to hike the rents up when their tenants aren’t getting the service that they are paying for at present? I refer to housing repairs amongst other things. Brenda Arthur mentions doing this with a heavy heart, I would say more like barefaced cheek.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • THFC8 and Andy T, I am working full time and cause everything else is costing me more ie food, electric gas, even this increase over the year adds up. £250 is going to be an average increase for people who get no housing benefits and oh hang on what is the percentage of my pay going to increase this year 0%. Why should I pay more rent while those people sitting at home claiming benefits are covered regardless they have to pay nothing. This needs to change long term unemployed should be made to work even if part time and they get to keep 40% of the income and 60% goes to paying something in rent. That way I and many other tax payers are not funding the lazy gits who think they have a right to sit at home. And shall I also start on it's now costing me more to travel to my Job?

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • Welome to the real world, £60.00 a week. My rent is £80.00 a week. this is cheap I know of many who pay more

    Report this comment

    lucy

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • Do some research THFC8 it's only a guideline and if NCC hadn’t wasted so much money on other futile schemes they would have enough money in reserve to have offset some of this this hike.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • Very good point Andy andJohn read the story, the government set the rents not NCC. Service they deserve for £60 a week? and 60% get benefit to pay for this, these people should be grateful to get a home and stop moaning. If they do not like it rent privately and join the real world.

    Report this comment

    THFC8

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • The Labout Gov't set up a system where Council rents would end up being the same as Housing Association rents. This escalator is just another step towards parity. When the Lab Gov started this - the Labour Party at City Hall were embarrased. Now they just blame any old government.

    Report this comment

    NchNthMan

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

  • The Labout Gov't set up a system where Council rents would end up being the same as Housing Association rents. This escalator is just another step towards parity. When the Lab Gov started this - the Labour Party at City Hall were embarrased. Now they just blame any old government.

    Report this comment

    NchNthMan

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

  • Ifwhen interest rates increase then thousands more people would be affected, but this would not be such a good story because there's no council bashing involved!! The rents are ridiculously cheap and I for one am glad the Council are looking at things in a more realistic light. If you can't afford an increase then make cuts, after all the increase is about the cost of a packet of fags... or a fraction of the cost of SKY TV!

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • This is affordable social housing .In the real world far from the benefits culture,and the world owes me a living claim,there are many who pay the market rate for their accomodation, and get on with life !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

  • Another interesting comment from John Norton, thank you. I agree that repairs to housing are lacking as is honesty. City Hall is chiefs indians situation, old pals act of back scratching.

    Report this comment

    Paul Platten

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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