Council House Rents To Increase By 3% In Highland From April 2020
23rd January 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
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019. The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast - https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/469655 There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
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On 14th February 2020 the Highland council place an advert in the Northern times newspaper regarding the Spaceport planning application as follows. - THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997 TOWN and COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 2017.
Members today approved a modest 3% rent increase for residential rents and service charges following detailed consultation with tenants. The increase will result in a rise in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.74 (£2.26), which means that Highland rents are still 8th lowest of the 26 councils which retain housing.
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges.` Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role. Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.
Highland Council Trading Standards are again warning unsuspecting residents of the emergence of a new Council Tax scam. Today a call was received by the Council from a Council Tax payer alerting to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are now texting people and informing them that they are due a Council Tax rebate.
The Highland Council has published the Highland Common Good Asset Register following the completion of a consultation process required by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The Register has been published on the Council's website and can be accessed from the download link on the page titled "Common Good Asset Register" or at the following link: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20010/community_planning/840/common_good_asset_register For ease of reference, the Register has been divided in the separate former Burghs having recorded Common Good Funds - Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Invergordon, Inverness, Nairn and Tain.
According to the draft Scottish Govenment budget, Highlands and Islands Enterprise will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year - down from £61.1 million last year. 2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million.
The Highland Licensing Committee, at their meeting on 14 January 2020, made their final resolution in relation to the licensing of the public performance of plays under the public entertainment licensing regime after the repeal of the Theatres Act 1968. This was after the completion of the 28 day statutory consultation period as set out in section 9 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
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