Members agreed to the increase at a meeting of Falkirk Council yesterday (Wednesday) after discussing a report on the local authority’s housing revenue account and council house rents from 2019/20 to 2023/24.
Councillor Gordon Hughes, housing spokesman, said: “One of the most important priorities for this council is providing a good housing service to our tenants.”
The report stated, based on 2018/19 estimates, Falkirk’s 16,000 tenants paid the sixth lowest level of rent in Scotland and around 52 per cent of that rent goes towards maintenance and improvements to properties.
In 2019/20 it is estimated around £55 million will be required in both revenue and capital funding to maintain and improve housing stock and increasing rents is the only way the council, as landlord, can continue to fund these improvements.
The current average weekly rent will increase by £1.99 from £66.36 to £68.36 in 2019/20.
From April tenants will pay on average £56.44 for one bedroom properties, £67.15 for two bedrooms, £75.84 for three and £86.83 for four and over.
Around 8000, 50 per cent, of council tenants are currently in receipt of housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and will be fully protected from any change in their rent.
However, there were concerns raised the underlying household income for working age Universal Credit claimants will continue to be frozen at 2015/16 levels and this may impact on some tenants’ ability to maintain rent payments even with this protection.
The council has around 1900 tenants already on Universal Credit and it is forecast that number will grow to around 3000 by March 2020.