Newcastle City Council Greenlights 7.7% Rent Increase Amid Concerns for Tenants

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Tenants residing in Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) properties are bracing themselves for a notable surge in rental charges and associated payments following the approval of a 7.7% hike in rent bills. The decision, sanctioned by city council authorities on Monday evening, has stirred apprehension among residents already grappling with the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Scheduled to come into effect from April 1, the endorsed increment means an additional financial burden of £5 to £8 per week for most tenants. While proponents argue that this move will bolster the city council’s financial reserves by an estimated £8.9 million in the upcoming fiscal year (2024/25), opponents express serious concerns about exacerbating financial strain on vulnerable households.

The council, slated to dissolve YHN this summer and reclaim control over the city’s social housing portfolio, asserts that the increased revenue is crucial for the construction of new dwellings in Newcastle and the necessary refurbishment of existing housing stock to ensure compliance with health and safety standards.

A councillor, responsible for housing oversight, acknowledged the challenges faced by tenants amidst the prevailing economic conditions and pledged support to prevent them from sliding further into poverty. However, a leader of the city’s Liberal Democrat opposition voiced strong reservations about the potential financial pressure this hike might exert on residents.

In addition to the rent increase, garage rents and service charges are set to rise by the same percentage. Furthermore, residents dependent on communal heating systems managed by the council will witness an uptick in tariffs to the maximum capped rate of 7.83p/kwh.

While the council assures that a majority of tenants will have their increased rent costs either fully or partially offset through Universal Credit or housing benefit payments, an estimated 6,114 individuals are expected to bear the brunt from their own incomes. A council leader empathised with concerns but stressed the necessity of balancing the council’s financial books. A councillor, meanwhile, expressed cautious optimism about the authority’s ability to mitigate the adverse effects of the rent increase on struggling households.

Highlighting the council and YHN’s commitment to preventing homelessness, officials underscored the presence of dedicated teams aimed at assisting residents in accessing entitled benefits, reducing energy expenses, and managing household budgets. A council member emphasised the robust measures in place to prevent evictions due to rental arrears.

They remarked, “Residents won’t face homelessness due to falling behind on their rent, and 70% of tenants do receive some form of housing benefit or Universal Credit anyway. Our challenge is to deliver good quality housing at rates below market levels. The private housing sector is failing to achieve this at market rates.”

As the community braces for the impending rent hike, discussions surrounding the affordability of social housing and the council’s management of public resources continue to echo, highlighting the delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and social welfare in policymaking.

In the foreseeable future, stakeholders anticipate concerted efforts to alleviate financial strain on vulnerable households while ensuring sustainable housing solutions that uphold principles of affordability and inclusivity.

Elliot Preece
Elliot Preece
Founder | Editor Elliot is an experienced journalist manager with a passion for writing. He played a pivotal role in building the News Write Ups website as a web developer and has since been leading the team of journalists to produce high-quality content. With his strong background in writing and web development, Elliot ensures that the website not only functions smoothly but also provides engaging and informative articles for readers.

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