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Council house rent rise approved in Ipswich - here's what tenants will be paying from April 2020

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 January 2020

Work is now under way building new homes for rent on the site of the former Tooks Bakery on Old Norwich Road in Ipswich. Picture: NEIL MACDONALD

Work is now under way building new homes for rent on the site of the former Tooks Bakery on Old Norwich Road in Ipswich. Picture: NEIL MACDONALD

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Controversial plans to increase council house rent by the maximum allowed have been approved in Ipswich.

Labour councillor Neil MacDonald said council house rent rises were below inflation and private rent increases since 2011. Picture: IBCLabour councillor Neil MacDonald said council house rent rises were below inflation and private rent increases since 2011. Picture: IBC

Tenants at Ipswich Borough Council houses will see their rent rise by 2.7% from April, which will increase average weekly rents to £82.42 - £2.17 more than this year.

According to government rules, 2.7% is the maximum rise allowed, although it does follow four years of rent freezes.

Opposition councillors from the Conservative group refused to back the proposals, which were approved by the council's executive on Tuesday and full council on Wednesday, branding them "callous".

But the council's Labour administration defended the move.

Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said the rise was hitting the families the council should be supporting most. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCILIpswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said the rise was hitting the families the council should be supporting most. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

Councillor Neil MacDonald, housing portfolio holder, said: "It is regrettable we have to increase rents but it's really important we maintain the financial sustainability of the housing revenue account.

"We will continue to provide a great service by the security of tenure, repairs, maintaining the grounds and maintaining the caretaker service."

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Mr MacDonald pledged to build hundreds more council homes, replace kitchens and bathrooms of existing properties, and carry out rewiring among other improvements.

According to the Labour administration, council house rents have increased by 17.7% since the party took control of the council in 2011, which was less than the 19% inflation and 40% increase in private rents during that time.

As well as funding the new council house builds and repairs programme, the increased rent will also cover increasing costs of materials and staff costs.

It will boost the council's coffers by around £1m over a year, according to finance data.

Ian Fisher, leader of the Conservative group said: "This council has a worrying habit of using the maximum limit possible.

"The housing revenue account regularly declares a surplus. The way the maintenance contract works means some tenants are being pressured into having work done.

"This is about Ipswich people, our residents, those most deserving of our help which is why we are against raising rents by the maximum amount."

Councillor Richard Pope, Conservative, added that only a rent increase in line with inflation - 1.8% - was acceptable.

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