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Council rent levels for 2023/24 to be considered

A record number of Perth & Kinross Council tenants have had their say on their rent level for 2023/24.

A 2.2% rent increase is being recommended in line with the views of tenants, following a consultation which gathered over 2,600 responses. The proposal will be considered at a meeting of the Housing and Social Wellbeing Committee on Wednesday 25th January.

The rent increase would pay for enhanced service levels for tenants, and reflects our continued commitment to rent levels that are affordable whilst maintaining good performance and high levels of tenant satisfaction.

Perth & Kinross Council currently has the sixth lowest council rent level in Scotland. We estimate that our rents are around 9% lower than neighbouring local authorities and 23% lower than local Housing Associations.

The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) - the pot of money made up of tenants' rent that pays for housing services - faces several cost pressures over the next 12 months. These include the rising cost of building materials, as well as paying for the implementation of Scottish Government policy such as meeting climate change obligations and carrying out electrical checks on all our properties. The proposed rent increase would also cover these costs.

As part of our work to involve tenants in discussions on rent setting, for the sixth year running each tenant was given the chance to vote on three different rent increase options. These options were based on what tenants told us their priorities were for investment during an ongoing process of engagement throughout the year.

A total of 2,625 tenants responded to the consultation - 33% of our tenants. This was the biggest ever response to our annual rent level survey and compares to 2,177 responses last year.

Over half (51%) of tenants said they preferred the option of a 2.2% increase. This would allow us to make new and increased investment in:

  • Additional resources to help us achieve a net-zero carbon emissions housing stock (£44,000).
  • Buying back ex-Council properties to increase our housing stock. An additional £15 million will be invested over the next five years to buy-back 30 ex-Council properties each year.
  • Covering the increasing costs of buying stock for repairs and improvements (£281,000).
  • Electrical Inspection Condition Reports (EICR) - £100,000. We are now legally required to ensure all tenants' homes have an EICR to confirm they meet electrical standards. We must test all of our properties every 5 years.
  • New fire sprinkler systems - £12,000.
  • Continued funding for Digital, Financial & Social Inclusion.
  • Increased costs for the servicing and maintenance of emergency lighting - £204,000.
  • Increased utility costs - £150,000.

We are of course aware that some tenants may be struggling with the cost of living. To help our tenants, a wide range of support measures have been put in place by the Housing Service including:

  • Financial assistance through the Tenancy Sustainment Fund.
  • Support through Locality Team 'Think Yes' budgets.
  • A team of Support Officers that can provide tailored advice.
  • Assistance with accessing devices, data and getting online through our Digital Inclusion Project.
  • Dedicated Welfare Rights support to offer expert advice and assistance.
  • A specialist money and debt advice service for tenants through the Perth Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • Support through our bespoke service with SCARF, who provide free and impartial energy efficiency advice to Council tenants.

Housing and Social Wellbeing Convener, Councillor Tom McEwan, said: "The proposed increase in rent would give Perth & Kinross Council an average rental figure of £75.23 per week compared to the projected Scottish local authority average of £80.41. We would continue to have one of the lowest local authority rents in Scotland whilst being able to make important investments in Housing Services that our tenants have told us they want to see, continue to increase our housing stock and also cover significant increasing costs that we face.

"We know that for many people finances are challenging at the moment, and so affordability is vital when considering any increase in rent. We carried out an assessment and found that 87% of our residents could afford our proposed rents based on their income alone, without considering any housing benefit they receive.

"We have also put in place a wide range of practical financial help and advice for anyone who needs it. Our Tenancy Sustainment Fund and Housing Locality Teams are available to support our tenants. I would strongly encourage anyone who is struggling to pay their rent to contact us on 01738 476000 to take advantage of the financial support that Housing staff and other Council colleagues can provide.

"I would like to thank the record number of tenants who took part in this consultation on rent levels. It is vital that our tenants have a strong voice in making these important decisions. We'll continue to work very closely in partnership with tenants to ensure we deliver the highest quality services for them."

Last modified on 19 January 2023

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