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Council House Rents To Increase By 3% In Highland From April 2020

23rd January 2020

Photograph of Council House Rents To Increase By 3% In Highland From April 2020

Highland councillors will be asked a the meeting on 29th January 2020 of the newly created Housing and Property committee to agree to increase council house rents by 3% for 2021. This would result in an increase in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.64 (£2.26 per week).

Consultation on proposed rent increases for 2020/2021 ran from 28 October 2019 until 16 December 2019. The initial consultation phase involved 13,996 Highland Council tenants receiving a consultation leaflet through the post.

For tenants who wanted to discuss the consultation in more detail, the Tenant Participation Team visited 90 communities across Highland and carried out face-to-face consultations with more than 900 tenants. In addition to this, telephone consultations were carried out with a further 20 communities and Rent Setting workshops were held with Tenant Forums and Tenant Groups in Brora, Inverness, Lochaber and Kinlochbervie.

The consultation was also available to complete online with links on the Council website and promotions on social media platforms.

Overall the response rate was 1,406 (10%). This is a significant increase in the responses to consultation in previous years. For example last year the response rate was 3.8%. This is largely due to the changes to consultation methods developed and delivered by the Tenant Participation Team working closely with tenant representatives across Highland.

The option of a 3% rent increase was the preferred option of 49.9% of tenants who replied; 34.2% favoured the 2.5% rent increase option; and 15.9% of tenants favoured the 3.5% option.

Universal credit is impacting on rent arrears with significant increases.

At the end of November 2019 there were 2,629 known Universal Credit claimants in mainstream Highland Council housing. Of these, 2,014 (76%) are in arrears with an average arrears value of £716 per household. Tenants currently in receipt of Universal Credit have average rent arrears that are nearly 4 times higher than tenants in receipt of full or partial Housing Benefit.

There continue to be gradual improvements in the administration of Universal Credit cases and the average value of arrears per known Universal Credit claimant in mainstream housing is reducing , however average arrears are still significantly higher than for other tenants, and the number of tenants claiming Universal Credit is increasing.

The full report is at Item 4 of the agenda can be read HERE


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