Ipswich council house rents set to increase from April

Ipswich Borough Council

Grafton House, home of Ipswich Borough Council - Credit: jason Noble

Council house rent in Ipswich is set to increase by 4.1% from April to help fund improvements to homes.

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive has backed the government-suggested rise, which must go before full council for final approval, and is based on the 3.1% Consumer Price Index figure at September last year plus 1%.

According to council figures, that will generate an additional £1.4million, which the authority said would fund a raft of improvements to council-owned properties.

If approved by full council, council house tenants will receive a letter by March 6 outlining the changes.

Neil MacDonald, Labour portfolio holder for housing, said: “This is needed to invest in our housing stock and to build more homes. We do also have an ambitious programme of planned works to meet to meet our asset management strategy.”

He added: “Council rents are still very good value for money when compared to private rents. The average private property rents in Ipswich at the end of November 2021 are £223 per week compared to £83 per week for council tenants.

“UK CPI was 5.1% at the end of November, so we are already looking at a real term cut in our finances. The CPI is predicted to go up to 6% by the Bank of England and 7% by Goldman Sachs.

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“The project of works will not be possible without a financially-sound housing revenue account. This does mean rents and charges do have to go up by a modest amount within government guidelines to ensure the quality service provided by the housing team continues.”

Cllr MacDonald said the planned maintenance and improvement works to council homes included new roofs for 263 properties, new windows for around 400 homes and general building work at 800 dwellings.

It also includes environmental measures such as installing A-rated boilers to 680 homes and solar panels for 220 houses.

However, opposition Conservative group leader Ian Fisher questioned whether delaying some of the works for a year may be better given the cost-of-living pressures expected this year amid rising energy bills and increased fuel costs.

“We know there is a cost of living rise at the moment and people are going to be pushed for cash over the coming months and years financially,” he said.

Elsewhere, rates for garage rents are proposed to increase by 4.1%, while service and utility charge increases in sheltered housing are to be capped at £2 per week.