Wigan council house tenants face three per cent rent increase
Council housing tenants in Wigan could face a three per cent rise in rent from next year.
The increase, which would cost tenants an additional £2.35 per week, would come into effect in April 2022 if councillors agree to the proposal this week.
It comes after inflation hit 3.1 per cent in September, according to the consumer price index (CPI), allowing the council to raise rent by up to 4.1 per cent next year.
A three per cent increase is the minimum rise in rent the council had forecast in March.
Deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt explained that the rent increase is the only way of generating more revenue to invest in the council’s housing stock.
He said: “For us as a landlord to maintain the stock, we need the rental income to allow us to borrow to invest in our stock and to actually provide the housing that we know our residents need.
“That’s the difficulty that we face when we consider any rent rise.”
Wigan currently charges the lowest rent of any council in the North West at an average of £74.67 per week compared to average of £90.50 across England.
Around 76 per cent of council tenants in Wigan receive housing benefit or universal creidt with approximately 60 per cent of rent being fully funded by these benefits.
Every one per cent rise in rent generates around £800,000 of income for the council.
Wigan council’s cabinet recommended the three per cent increase at a meeting last month, after it was also endorsed by members of the housing advisory panel.
Garage rents are also set to rise by three per cent to an average of £6.77 per week.
Labour councillor Susan Gambles, who is the lead cabinet member for housing and welfare in Wigan, said the local authority will support affected residents.
Speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting, Labour councillor Dane Anderton said residents renting privately are facing cost increases of £150 a month.
Conservative group leader Michael Winstanley said he is "concerned" about the impact of the increase, particularly on those who do not receive benefits.
Independent Alliance leader Stuart Gerrard said the rent increase is too much.
He said: “This is going to affect the most vulnerable in our communities who are struggling with the rise in fuel and food prices.
“My own personal opinion is that the increase should have been frozen for 12 months and revisited once we are completely out of the pandemic.”
Councillors will vote on whether to accept the recommended three per cent rise in rent for its housing tenants at a full council meeting on Wednesday (December 8).
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