Political leaders clash over rise in Ipswich council house rents

David Ellesmere showed off the borough's new homes at Bader Close to shadow housing minister Emma Re

David Ellesmere showed off the borough's new homes at Bader Close to shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds. - Credit: Archant

A furious war of words has blown up on Ipswich council as it prepares to increase home rents in April.

Next week’s meeting of the borough’s Labour-dominated executive is expected to approve a 2.2% increase in rents in line with government recommendations.

However opposition Conservative leader Nadia Cenci accused the administration of hypocrisy – saying the council should keep the rise to the rate of inflation level – or freeze it altogether.

She said: “Labour go on about the cost of living crisis, but when they have a chance of influencing people’s cost of living they do this. It’s blatant hypocrisy.”

The government had recommended councils to put up their rents by inflation – 1.2% – plus one per cent, leading to the 2.2% figure.

Most councils that still have their own housing stock are expected to fall in line with that recommendation, and have used the figure in their budget calculations.

Labour council leader David Ellesmere hit back firmly at the opposition leader: “The last year that the Tories were in control at the borough they put up rents by 6.4% – nearly three times this increase – and Nadia Cenci voted for that on the executive.

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“And her party has introduced the bedroom tax which has put up rents for many of the most vulnerable by £24 to £25 a week. That’s more than all the rises we’ve had since the Tories came to power in Westminster. I’m sure the voters know who’s really responsible for huge rent rises.”

Mr Ellesmere said the average rise would work out at £1.79 a week – but it would be much less for those on housing benefit. This year’s rent increase is the lowest in the borough for several years.

He added: “This increase means we will be able to continue with our programme of improving houses for our tenants and with our housebuilding plans which will see 300 new council homes built over the next few years.”

Ipswich Council has just under 8,000 tenants – of whom 3,000 pay full rent. The remainder have all or part of their rent covered by housing benefit.

The borough’s executive is due to meet to discuss the increase next Tuesday, January 13.