A COUNCILLOR has called for plans for rents to be increased in the Vale of Glamorgan to be looked at again.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council will meet to discuss and make a decision on plans to increase council house rent in the county by 5.5 per cent next week.
Chair of the council’s home and safe communities scrutiny committee, Cllr Millie Collins, expressed concern over the impact such a move could have on those already struggling with the cost of living crisis.
Cllr Collins said: “It is essential that we understand the effect that this 5.5 per cent rent rise will have on the 4,000 or so households in the Vale who rent council homes.
“Those people have seen their heating and food bills rise significantly in recent months, and we’ve already heard talk about council tax rises too.
“Setting rate rises has to be about what’s good for people, and not just what’s good for the council budget.
“I will be asking for this rent rise to be discussed as an urgent item at our next Homes and Safe Communities meeting, before it goes to the vote at full council.”
The maximum uplift in social housing rent that the Welsh Government allows local authorities to make for 2023/24 is 6.5 per cent.
All local authorities in Wales with social housing are required to submit an annual 30 year business plan.
A council report on the proposed changes to rent states that the recommended 5.5 per cent increase would aid the authority in its current financial situation and help it to deliver its housing ambitions, including to decarbonise its housing stock by 2030.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council has received a 8.9 per cent increase in Welsh Government funding from last year, but cautioned that this will not resolve the £38 million budgetary pressures it faces.
The council report states: “The proposed Council Housing rents were found to be less than the average rent charged by most RSL (Registered Social Landlord) for most property sizes and types.
“In addition, council tenants pay less than 30 per cent of their income on rent which is a common affordability test.”
It adds: “The council is acutely aware of the financial pressures that our tenants are facing at this time and the impact that rent increases may have particularly on those who do not receive any form of housing subsidy.”
The authority said it will commit to the following measures to help mitigate any impacts:
- No evictions due to financial hardship for the term of the settlement where tenants engage with their landlords;
- Continue to provide targeted support to those experiencing financial hardship;
- Maximise the use of all suitable social housing stock;
- Undertake a joint campaign to encourage tenants to talk to their landlord if they are experiencing financial difficulties;
- Build on existing engagement with tenants in rent setting decisions;
- A commitment to invest in existing homes;
- Work in partnership with tenants, Welsh Government, funders and other partners to develop a consistent approach to assessing affordability across the social housing sector in Wales;
- Participate in an assurance exercise in April 2023 to reflect on application of the rent policy to date.
The Vale Council’s cabinet will meet to discuss the proposed changes to rent on Thursday January 5.
A final decision will be made at a full council meeting on Wednesday January 11.