Council Proposes Rent Freeze  

Tenants’ group welcomes proposal to freeze council rents

Members of the Borough Residents’ Forum, which represents the interests of council tenants and leaseholders have endorsed calls for a freeze on rents from April 1.

Wandsworth’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Ellis said: “This proposal is good news for the thousands of tenants that live in council accommodation across the borough.

“As a result of our careful financial management and the efficiency savings we have carried out within the housing department, which have helped us deliver an even better value for money service, we are in a position to offer our tenants a rent freeze. With many people feeling the pinch, this would undoubtedly help ease the financial pressure on some of the borough’s lowest income families.”

Marlene Price, forum vice-chairman and the representative of the Scholey House residents association on Battersea’s York Road estate said:
“Tenants in Wandsworth will be relieved that rents are likely to remain unchanged. Not only would this benefit people in work, but it will also be welcomed by those living on council estates whose benefits have been reduced.”

The housing department has also unveiled an extra £28m of improvements to the council’s housing stock. This means that over the period dating April 2013 to March 2017 more than £100m has already been set aside to improve local housing estates. This figure is set to rise between now and 2017.

Around £55m has been earmarked for major refurbishment projects, like new roofs and windows, while nearly £5m will be spent on improving and maintaining lifts, £4.6m on rewiring homes and other electrical upgrades, around £11m on heating system improvements and repairs and more than £4.5m on adaptations and improvements to the homes of tenants with disabilities.
The four year programme has also set aside more than £11m for the construction of new affordable housing as part of the borough’s hidden homes programme, which converts vacant and disused spaces on local estates into modern and attractive homes for families on low incomes.

Cllr Ellis added: “Just because rents are being curbed, it doesn’t mean that we will in any way be reigning in our programme of investing heavily in improving the fabric of our estates.
“Over the next four years we will be spending well over £100m to ensure that our estate residents continue to enjoy living in some of the best quality social housing found anywhere in the country.”

The proposal to keep rents unchanged will be considered by councillors on the housing scrutiny committee and also the council’s executive later this month.

January 4, 2014