Rent rise moves closer for Norwich city council tenants

Rent rises for Norwich's council tenants have moved a stage closer after the city council's cabinet reluctantly approved an average increase of 7.6pc.

The authority said it had no choice but to increase rents in line with levels set by government. Its cabinet is recommending to the full council that it implement a rise of 7.58pc, or �4.70 a week for traditional council homes, and 7.66pc or �5.35 a week for other higher-value homes that the council has acquired.

The council is warning that the the impact of the increases will fall hardest on those just above the benefit entitlement threshold, either reducing their disposable income or forcing them into benefit. Sixty-two per cent of tenants receive housing benefit, which will rise to cover the increased rent.

Presenting the recommendations, Brenda Arthur, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for housing, told members: 'It is with a heavy heart I bring this to you.'

If the council was to impose a lower increase than set by the government, it would receive a reduced income, while a higher increase would result in a loss of subsidy.

A report before councillors said that tenants had been consulted and that while they were generally unhappy with the current subsidy system, they accepted the proposed increase was necessary to fund management and maintenance costs and maintain the long-term viability of the council's housing revenue account.

Council leader Steve Morphew, pictured, thanked tenants for their understanding, saying: 'It's an absolute disgrace that we're put in a position where we have to do this, particularly at this time.' The council had spearheaded a bid to persuade housing minister Grant Shapps to think again about the guideline rent increases, and were supported by the city's MPs, but he rejected the proposals.

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

New government proposals will see councils keep all the rent they collect, but this has yet to be implemented.

In the mean time, the 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.

What do you think of the proposed rent increases? Write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Norwich NR1 1RE or email