South Ayrshire tenants will see their rents go up by 4.5 per cent for each of the next three years.
Unlike many councils, South Ayrshire sets rents for three years, with the last increase of 1.5 percent being the lowest in Scotland.
However, the increased inflation and costs that have shaped the economy over the last three years has led to a marked increase.
The 4.5 per cent was the lowest of the three options that tenants were consulted on, with three quarters voting for it.
It was acknowledged that the rate of inflation was higher than previously assumed and this was impacting on revenue and capital budgets.
The report to council this week stated: “Despite the budget and wider economic challenges, in recognition that 2023/24 was the final year of the previously agreed 1.5 percent rent increase and taking account of other cost of living pressures, the council maintained its’ commitment to apply the 1.5 percent increase in 2023/24.”
The report pointed out that guidelines sought to ensure a maximum average increase of £5 per week.
Had this year’s increase been kept at 1.5 percent, then the average i rise in South Ayrshire rents would be £1.10 per week, around a fifth of the permitted average.
Tenants were given three options, all of which are significantly higher than the previous 1.5 percent rise – 4.5 per cent, 4.75 percent and 5 percent.
At the time of the previous consultation in November/December 2020,
Covid-19 restrictions were in place, this limited the level and range of consultation that could take place with tenants.
However, using newsletters, the housing service managed to attracted 367 votes – the highest number of responses they had received for a rent consultation.
This time around, 397 responses were received, with more than three-quarters voting for the lower increase of 4.5 percent for each of the next three years.
A report to the full council stated: “This will allow the council to meet the costs of delivering the housing service and maintain the current and proposed levels of funding needed to deliver the housing capital investment programme.”
The same increase will apply to other charges including lock ups, garages, garden maintenance charges, communal heating and amenity charges.
Labour councillor Philip Saxton, said that the level of inflation was low at the time of the last rent setting process, which informed the setting the 1.5 percent increase.
He said: “I think you have got it right. With staff wages increasing, increase in materials is substantial, although I was surprised it was 4.5per cent. Obviously people who can’t afford it can get housing benefit and in some cases apply discretionary housing funding.”
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