Rent increases halved

RENT increases for borough tenants in Ipswich have been halved thanks to a new government grant - boosting family incomes by an average of �100 a year.

RENT increases for borough tenants in Ipswich could be halved if a new Government grant is made available - boosting family incomes by an average of �100 a year.

The good news extends to residents across the borough - because the low rent increase will be paid for by a Whitehall subsidy, council tax payers will not have to cover the shortfall.

Ipswich Borough Council rubber-stamped the proposal at its executive meeting last night, but they say they have not yet received confirmation of the grant from Government.

The annual rent rises are regulated by national guidelines issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the original proposal was for a 6.2per cent increase.

However, this has been slashed to 3.1pc rise with the proviso from housing chiefs that council coffers will receive the shortfall in full.

The last gasp reprieve for tenants comes just 20 days before the full rise should have been implemented. Letters notifying tenants of the 6.2pc started going out before the announcement on the Department for Communities and Local Government website last Friday afternoon.

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Steven Wells, the borough's housing portfolio holder, said: “We are happy to put forward the recommendation to help our tenants in this time of economic hardship. It is now down to the Government to fulfil its obligations.

“As we have not been 'officially' told anything by the Government yet and it was simply due to the diligence of our officers that we picked up on this announcement, we are contacting the Government asking for a written guarantee that the financial liability of the scheme will not fall on the shoulders of the local tax payer.

“It would not be fair to simply transfer the cost from council tenants on to residents in general.”

Mr Wells said: “As this proposal has been made at such a late stage we have already begun to notify some of our tenants of the original 6.2pc increase. We hope to implement the reduced increase, which will mean an average saving of �2 a week, as soon as possible.”

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