Rent for more than 20,000 council homes in Wolverhampton to increase
Rent for more than 20,000 council homes in Wolverhampton could be increased slightly under a move likely to be rubber-stamped by council chiefs.
Wolverhampton Council bosses said the increase – a rise of seven per cent from April 1 – was in line with the rent cap imposed by the Government.
And whilst they said the rise would likely "place an additional burden on many families", support would be on offer for those most in need in the city.
It would be an increase of £5.07 a week for one-bed homes, £5.67 for two-bed and £6.45 for three-bed homes for Wolverhampton Homes properties.
The move by the Labour-run authority has criticised by the Conservatives in the city who have instead put forward a six per cent increase to help families.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, Labour's cabinet member for city assets and housing, said: "Normally, the rise is CPI plus one per cent which in September was 10.1 per cent – and then to 11.1 per cent, which was a bit ridiculous.
"We've gone with seven per cent but if we decided to lower that by one per cent than it would equate to just under £1 million we'd have to find. We've got a lot of investment coming and we'd have to make that money up – and it's difficult to play catch-up."
Councillor Gakhal said the increase would allow work to be carried out across the social homes which and a "lot of this will help residents in the long-run", whilst there would be further investment in new housing projects.
Meanwhile Conservative Councillor Adam Collinge, who represents Oxley, said hid party recognised the authority's Housing Revenue Account was complex but they "cannot ignore the current pressures facing families".
He added: "Conservative councillors believe it is right to make every effort to limit the impacts of rising rents on tenants, as well as investing more in day-to-day maintenance.
"We would love to go further, but we have sought to balance the pressures managing social housing in Wolverhampton, with the overriding concerns of residents relating to costs over the coming year and timeliness of repairs.
"Tenants and residents are being asked by the Labour-run council to pay increasing bills. They need to see the benefits of this across Wolverhampton. We will work to make sure all our residents are getting value for money."
Councillor Collinge added the Tories would plough more money – an additional £400,000 – towards tackling maintenance issues in the amendment, which will be discussed by Wolverhampton Council's full council on Wednesday.
And he raised concerns over how the authority was spending a part of its budget to paying down borrowing and debt interest, to support future capital investment projects.