Rent for council home tenants in Sheffield set to increase for first time in four years

Council home rents are going up in Sheffield for the first time in four years.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 4:00 pm

Rents for council properties, including temporary accommodation, will rise by 2.7 per cent from April - it’s equivalent to an average increase of £1.98 per week.

Tenants may be unhappy but council bosses say it will give them much needed rental income to reinvest back into estates.

The rent rise will mean services which had previously been cut, such as environmental, community safety and educational projects in neighbourhoods, can start to be funded again.

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Stock pictures of council housing in and around the Parson Cross area of Sheffield. Picture Scott Merrylees

Back in 2016, the Government said councils had to reduce rents by one per cent, per year, regardless of inflation, for four years.

Sheffield lost 13 per cent of its income during that time which had a significant impact. This policy is now ending so the council can increase rents.

But officers say even though rents are going up, it won’t cover the losses of the past five years and rents are at a lower baseline than they would have been.

Director of housing and neighbourhoods, Janet Sharpe, told a meeting: “Rents have not increased for a number of years. The four years where we had a reduction in rents had a significant impact.

“We have an ambitious five year investment project to increase and improve stock and address fire safety issues.

“We have put some in place help with Universal Credit for any rent increase where tenants are concerned and will be working very closely with them to help with any adjustments with benefit applications.”

The roll out of Universal Credit started in Sheffield in November 2018 for new benefit claimants. Existing claimants are expected to move to Universal Credit between 2020 and 2023.

A report by council officers said: “Our forecast on rent arrears as a result of Universal Credit is lower than initially thought.

“Provisions remain in place to help and support our tenants who are transitioning and hopefully this will help to reduce our rental arrears further as a result of Universal Credit. We will continue to review and monitor this.”