RENT for council homes and garages in the Stroud district are set to be hiked to help fund £23m worth of much-needed repair works to Stroud District Council’s (SDC) housing stock as well as help pay for the first new council homes in 20 years.
Council-owned houses will see a jump in rent of 3.2 per cent, or £2.66 a week on average, amounting to an extra £127.68 a year for the average household.
Renting the council’s garages will also be more expensive, with the 39p rise meaning the cost will come to £12.62 a week on average.
For people living at sheltered housing schemes, the charge for maintaining communal facilities, caretaking and cleaning has risen by 59p to £22.42p a week.
Included in the measures is the decision to charge up to £45 to for pest control services, and £25 for returning stray dogs, netting SDC a predicted £32,000.
The price hikes were recommended by SDC’s strategy and resources committee last night (Thursday, January 9) and will seek approval from the full council on Thursday, January 23 at Ebley Mill.
The rent increases will add around £700,000 to SDC’s coffers, on top of the £20.5m it already makes from dwelling rents in the district.
The money will fund much-needed repair work on SDC's housing stock, which will cost £23million over five years.
It will also contribute to SDC’s £19.8m building program next year, which includes 59 new council homes.
Around £1m of the housing budget in coming years is being funded by SDC’s reserves but the authority will need to find further income, or reduce expenditure, as this money dries up.
Cllr Paul Carter (Con, Nailsworth) suggested increasing the garage rents even further as he believed they were a “lifestyle choice”.
However an SDC officer explained that a high number of garages were vacant and needed to balance the charges with renting the maximum number of garages.
Head of the Conservative group on the council, Cllr Keith Pearson (Upton St Leonards), believed that the rent increases might not be enough as they stood.
“If we’re serious about providing housing I think it is a false economy to not increase the rent correctly at this stage because we will never get the money to provide the housing we need later,” he said.
However Cllr Simon Pickering (Green, Slade) argued that the Right to Buy scheme, originally a Conservative Government policy, had reduced their housing stock and said they would not be needing to build houses if it was not in place.
So far 19 council homes have been sold to their respective tenants at the discounted rate under the Right to Buy Scheme in the district in 2013/14, with another eight predicted to be sold, earning SDC £1.5million.
The measures were passed with eight in favour while all five Conservative councillors on the committee voting against.