Councillors agree house rent increase at 3%
24th January 2019
The average weekly rent charged by The Highland Council to its 13,411 council house tenants is set to increase by 3% for the coming financial year 2019/20.
The average weekly rent will rise from £73.22 to £75.42 - an increase of £2.20 per week.
The 3% increase will be applied across the region to residential rents, gypsy/traveller site pitches, service charges and garage and garage sites.
In 2019/20, the Council's proposed budget for Council housing repairs and maintenance is £17,811 million (an increase of 5.9% on last year's repairs and maintenance budget).
The rent collected goes into an account called the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and this money is only used for services which benefit Council tenants, such as repairs to houses. It does not pay for roads, street lights; refuse collection or services other than Housing.
Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of the Council’s Care, Learning and Housing Committee said: "This report shows that the Council’s Housing Revenue Account is in a healthy position and this small rise in rents will help to ensure that we are able to increase the amount of money we spend on environmental improvements to our housing estates, which is something we know is a priority for tenants.
"The Council continues to work hard to keep rent increases as low as possible for tenants while continuing to provide a high level of front line services and investment in our housing stock, and we have had rent increase well below the national average for a number of years."
He added: “To maintain a healthy Housing Revenue Account in future we do need to update our financial assumptions and future Account business plan and I am pleased that Members have agreed that a full review of the Housing Revenue Account loan charges and capital planning is carried out which will help to determine future rent policies and capital planning for housing."
Highland Council rents are the second lowest of the 5 main Housing Associations operating in the Council area; and since 2010/11 Highland Council annual rent increases have consistently been among the lowest in Scotland.
The Highland Council is working hard to release business grants to eligible local businesses as quickly as possible. The Council has received over 2,000 applications since the scheme was introduced last week and has set up systems to process these applications quickly while ensuring the necessary information is received.
Since The Highland Council's dedicated helpline went live last Wednesday afternoon staff have dealt with over 1,600 calls. The helpline has been set to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support.
Council tax payers in Highland who have lost their jobs or are experiencing a drop in their income are being encouraged to apply as quickly as possible for a reduction in their council tax. This help, known as the ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme', is available for lower income households, including home owners.
Around 19,000 business rate payers in Highland will not receive their annual rates bill this April. The Highland Council recognises the exceptional economic challenges for local business and has therefore decided to pause business rates bills in respect of financial year 2020/21.
What is 'shielding'? If you fall within one of the groups recommended to shield, you will have received a letter or text from the NHS. Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising contact between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
During this time of restrictions it is important that we all stay active, for our physical health and mental well being. Recreation outside is an important element of this, but it is essential that each of us practice good social distancing while outside.
The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19. The single line number - 0300 303 1362 - will connect callers to relevant Council specialist teams and will operate Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.
Highland Council will be providing e-vouchers to families to support access to free school meals from week commencing 30 March 2020. This innovative and easy-to-use service will ensure over 4,000 school children will continue to receive support for school meals while schools are closed.
The Council has been working at pace to set up centres for the children of key workers. Anyone who has applied for a place at one of the key worker hubs in the Highland Council area will be contacted by the end of today (Wednesday 25th) with confirmation of the arrangements that have been put in place.
THE HELPLINE GOES LIVE TODAY FROM 2:00pm ONWARDS. The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19.
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