Council tenants face rent rise

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WIGAN’S council tenants face a whooping 5.6 per cent rent rise next year.

The large hike, which includes garage rents, is being driven by coalition government orders to Wigan and Leigh Housing that they must continue closing the gap between the private lease and social housing sectors.

Dwelling rents for new build properties and affordable homes, plus sheltered housing service charges, are also set to go up under the proposals, which will need full council backing in January, by 3.1 per cent.

Under the system, social housing rents are now linked to the value and size of the property and to the area’s average manual earnings rate.

It aims to eventually reach a level of parity between council housing and housing association rents.

Two thirds of the 21,000 council tenants receive full or partial housing benefit but they will now face a “significant impact” as the government’s controversial Welfare Reform Act package begins to bite.

The proposed rent increase will raise an extra £4.5m in revenue and fund Wigan and Leigh Housing’s long awaited bathroom refurbishment programme to proceed.

Chairman of the board of Wigan and Leigh Housing Neil Turner said that it is “very concerned” about the challenge tenants will face in managing their finances.

But Leader of the opposition Coun Gary Wilkes said that the council should be agreeing to freeze the rents because of the slump and the pressure on household budgets.