Council house tenants in Kirklees face a rent increase of 7.7% from April – an average of just over £6 a week.
And that comes as the council has revealed that around 40% of tenants are currently behind with their rent.
Kirklees Council’s Cabinet is proposing an increase in line with Government guidelines – Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus one per cent.
For individual properties, the average increase will be £5.36 per week for a one-bedroomed property, £6.36 per week for a two-bedroomed, £7.16 per week for a three-bedroomed and £7.57 per week for a four-bedroomed home.
Service charges, including communal cleaning, window cleaning and door entry systems, for 2024-25 will also see the same increase, resulting in an extra charge between 3p and £1.30 per week.
If the increase is approved at a meeting on Tuesday December 12, the new charges will be applied from April 1 2024. Tenants will receive their statutory increase notice with information and contact details for the Money Advice Team four weeks before any increase.
A report to Cabinet says that two-thirds of council tenants are in receipt of benefits – either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit – and so the council must be mindful of the impact on the remaining 34% who receive no help with their rent.
The report adds: “There are 40% of tenants that are currently reported as having some arrears of which 62% are in receipt of Universal Credit and so it cannot be guaranteed that payments will be made because the benefit goes direct to the tenant.
“Claims to have the benefits paid direct to us can be made if the tenant is reported to have more than eight weeks’ arrears. There are 41% of tenants who pay by direct debit and 59% who pay by alternative methods.”
The housing service is making savings of around £3 million in 2024-25 which is being achieved through efficiencies and new ways of working and also a reduction in the time it takes to repair and re-let a property.
Clr Moses Crook, Cabinet member for housing and highways, said: “Our difficult decision to increase rents by 7.7%, in line with Government guidelines, is vital in maintaining and improving the quality and safety of our council housing stock.
“We understand our tenants’ financial pressures, particularly in the current financial situation, and we will ensure that there is support in place for anyone who is struggling.”
The council offers support through a dedicated Income Management and Money Advice Team, who will work with tenants to support them in completing claims for benefits and signposting to other organisations.
For additional support, tenants can also access the council’s Local Welfare Provision.