Town councils approve large rent increases

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COUNCILLORS in Rotherham and Barnsley have approved massive rent rises for tenants, and laid the blame at the door of the Government.

Council tenants in Rotherham will be hit by an average rent rise of £5.55 a week in April, it has been confirmed, after councillors approved a 9.45 per cent hike last night.

The increase will mean an average rent of about £64.27 a week - although around 67 per cent of Rotherham tenants will be unaffected because they receive housing benefit.

In Barnsley, councillors voted through an average increase of £5.77. The hike was agreed by cabinet members in both authorities.

Ruling Labour councillors in both towns said they had no choice but to raise rents, laying the blame at the door of the Coalition Government.

Coun Rose McNeely, in Rotherham, said the authority had to follow the Government’s policy of raising rents to put them in line with those charged by housing associations.

She said: “We appreciate our tenants, like everyone else, are facing hard times at the moment but unfortunately our hands are tied because of the rent convergence.

If the councils do not follow the Government’s formula, for every one per cent deviation the authorities would lose around £700,000 of income.