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Decision due in New Year on 1% rent reduction for Ipswich council house tenants

PUBLISHED: 14:42 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:42 30 November 2017

Council house tenants may be in line for a 1% rent reduction from April. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Council house tenants may be in line for a 1% rent reduction from April. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A decision is set to be made in the New Year on whether tenants for council-owned homes in Ipswich get their rent reduced by 1%.

Neil Macdonald said the reduction would impact on improvement budget. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDNeil Macdonald said the reduction would impact on improvement budget. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Government launched a reduction on social rent in 2016 as part of its Welfare Reform and Work Act, with the aim of reducing rent by 1% each year until 2020.

At the start of the current financial year, a 1% reduction was approved by Ipswich Borough Council, with a decision due on January 9 from the council’s executive committee as to whether to recommend the reduction again from April next year.

But the borough council’s portfolio holder for housing and health, Neil MacDonald, said it would also affect the finances of improving council-owned properties.

“It’s great for some of the tenants that are suffering from austerity, which is good, but on the other hand it’s not so good for the overall budget,” he said.

“We want to carry on raising the standard for housing – we have put sprinklers in Cumberland Towers, and we were able to fund that over a long period of time [from council rent income] and other housing projects, so you have to think of that side.”

The money collected from rent goes towards improvements and repairs needed at its homes, as well as necessary upgrades, safety renovations and new council house builds.

A panel meeting from the tenant area housing panels is due to take place on December 13, where the proposed rent reduction will be discussed, with housing and community services, financial services and legal services all set to consult on the matter.

If approved, the rent would be reduced from the start of the new financial year in April.

Mr MacDonald said that the long term plan was to continue identifying suitable housing sites where both private and council properties could be built.

He added: “In the long term that’s our plan but in the short term we have sufficient stock in the housing account to build what we are looking to build.

“But going forward we will need to continue building houses, and we will continue looking at some other sites and smaller sites in the longer term.”

It is not yet clear how much in monetary terms the rent reduction will be, or how much less the council will have in its budget as a result.

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