Councillors discuss rent rise

PROPOSED rent increase will be discussed by councillors next week.

ADurham County Council's cabinet will be asked to approve an average rent rise of seven per cent for people living in council homes, including in east Durham.

The increase, which is in line with Government recommendations, would mean an additional charge of 3.87 per week for the average tenant, making the weekly average rent 59.37 per week.

The council is also proposing a baseline increase of seven per cent in garage rents, with adjustments over the next three years in order to harmonise charges in east Durham with other areas under council control.

Coun Clive Robson, the council's cabinet member for housing, said: "The council is responsible for setting rents for its tenants each year, but these rents are based on a formula set by Government.

"While the increase in rents will generate almost 3.4m of income for the council, 1.6m has to go to the Government and a further 2m has been lost through a reduction in supported borrowing.

"The proposed increase this year is in line with recommendations by national Government and will mean our rents are still below the average rent levels for the private sector and registered social landlords.

"It is also important to remember that a significant proportion of our tenants receive housing benefit and, therefore, a helping hand to meet their rent payments."

Durham County Council has a housing stock of just under 19,000 properties and around 3,500 garages.

In the East Durham and Wear Valley areas, properties are managed by Arms Length Management Organisations – East Durham Homes and Dale and Valley Homes. In Durham City, council houses and garages are managed in-house by the county council.

The report to cabinet also outlines a 17.99m housing revenue account capital programme for 2011-12 to modernise and refurbish council homes.

This figure does not include Decent Homes funding, which is yet to be announced by Government.