Dudley Council rent increases could hit thousands in pocket

Rent rises are on the horizon for thousands of tenants in Dudley with a warning "it is going to hit a lot of people hard."

Dudley Council House
Dudley Council House

Dudley Council is proposing an increase in rents, linked to inflation and in line with Government policy, which would mean the average weekly rent would rise in April 2022 by 3.5 percent.

This would mean an average weekly increase per household of £2.79 to £82.50, leading to a yearly increase of £145.08.

Labour councillor Steve Waltho said he was disappointed to hear about any increase in rent payments for residents already hit by other money issues.

He said: "I would say that, unfortunately, this is going to hit a lot of people hard, such as those who can ill afford to pay extra money with the £20 Universal Credit being taken off.

"Many of our tenants are going to face a really difficult time moving forward with the cost of living increases."

Dudley Council's cabinet is set to hear plans to invest more than £50 million across housing services as part of the 2022/2023 budget at the cabinet meeting on Thursday, October 28.

Councillor Laura Taylor-Childs, cabinet member for housing and community services, said the increase had been set below the Government-set increase of 4.5 percent and spoke about the council plans.

She said: "After what has been another difficult year for so many, including our tenants, I’m pleased we’re in a position to continue our significant investment in housing services.

"We can also show our commitment to improving our homes as we move into the new financial year in the spring.

"To help us invest at the pace we are and to address budget issues moving forward which have come about as a result of the ongoing impact of the pandemic, along with inflationary pressures and higher demand for our services, it is necessary to bring in a small rent increase.

"While we wish this was avoidable, all of the money raised through this increase will be ploughed back into housing services.

"We will continue to offer support to some people who struggle to meet their housing costs through our discretionary housing payments."

Councillor Taylor-Childs said the money raised through this increase will be reinvested in housing services, with housing benefit and universal credit housing element payments both increasing in line with the approved rent rise.

The proposed Dudley Council budget for 2022/2023 sees £22.6million allocated to housing management to cover day-to-day duties such as income collection, tenancy enforcement, and support for vulnerable tenants as well as lettings and void management.

It also outlines plans to invest £27.2 million to cover the cost of responsive repairs and routine void works as well as annual statutory duties such as fire risk assessments, servicing of gas appliances, electrical inspections and lift servicing.

The council will also contribute up to £250,000 towards discretionary housing payments, topping up a grant from government which was almost £650,000 in the current year.

These payments are used to support people who are already receiving benefits but need extra help to meet their housing costs.

Services charges will in most cases be increased in line with inflation, following a freeze on increases last year.

Cabinet will also consider an enhanced programme of improvement works including estate regeneration and building new homes.

This takes advantage of the council’s borrowing flexibility for housing, and schemes are being developed in consultation with tenants and residents.

Members will be asked to consider all of these proposals along with a revised capital programme and a 30 year business plan for the Housing Revenue Account.

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