Seeds of change for Sheffield allotment holders

Allotment rents in Sheffield will increase slightly and existing discounts for certain tenants are changing.

Monday, 4th February 2019, 11:13 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:21 pm
There are changes ahead for Sheffield allotment holders

The rent for allotments and water charges in 2020/2021 will rise in line with inflation. It means someone with the smallest size allotment, who currently pays £40, will see an increase to £42.

There are more than 3,100 allotment plots across the city and rents and charges are reviewed annually. Council officers say if they don’t increase rents, there won’t be enough money to maintain the service.

Allotments manager Ceri Ashton says in a report: “The allotments service is essentially self-financing. The rent and water charges collected fund the service.

“A rent increase would be beneficial to the service. It does not generate a saving to the council but it protects the current level of service, enabling the council to continue to provide decent allotment sites for people to grow their own food.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Allotments provide an opportunity to grow and consume food locally, this has a benefit in relation to reducing food miles and recycling through local composting.”

People on low incomes, those aged 60-plus and students receive discounts but these are changing.

A 75 per cent discount is offered to those claiming certain benefits and this is being extended to include people on Carer’s Allowance.

Students have been able to claim a 75 per cent discount if they are full-time and are entitled to a full student loan.

But the report says this has been “problematic and onerous” because loans can change from year to year. There are also complications with grants, international students, those doing a Masters degree and means testing.

The council will now offer all full-time students a 25 per cent discount instead. The discount is lower but is available to a wider range of students including those at college, university, and completing a Masters or PhD.

Currently anyone aged over 60 can get a senior citizen discount but this is changing to state pension age.

“The discount structure is to make allotments more affordable for those who may struggle to pay for them,” says the report.

“Many people aged 60+ are still in work and on a good income. Those aged 60+ who meet the criteria for the 75 per cent discount can claim that discount.

“It does not seem logical to offer a discount to anyone else simply because they are aged 60+. It is therefore proposed that the eligibility threshold for the 25 per cent senior citizen discount for new claimants is state pension age.”

Officers did consult with the Allotment Advisory Group. Just over a fifth of tenants responded to a questionnaire and of these, 70 per cent said they were in favour of a small increase in charges.