Fife Council has agreed a one-year rent increase of 1.5% for council houses from April 2021 – adding just £1.13 a week to the average rent cost.
The same increase will apply to service charges, garages and temporary accommodation. Lockup charges will be frozen for one more year while improvement proposals are finalised.
Councillor Judy Hamilton said the council has seriously considered the impact of the Covid pandemic on households across Fife, as well the impact on the cost of providing services and building new homes.
“In terms of housing we can control our own income – and we always talk and listen to our tenants before taking decisions.
“We’ve all become acutely aware of the importance of good quality housing in providing shelter and security throughout this pandemic. I want to make sure that council tenants continue to have a safe place in which to live, at a cost that is affordable for those on the lowest incomes.
“We did things slightly differently this year, but were still able to work with Tenant Forums, to give our tenants information about the services their rent pays for, and the cost of providing those services. And with that information, we were open and transparent in the rent consultation, and tenants are aware what they get for their money.
“For the first time, we consulted on a single rent option asking tenants if they would support a 1.5% rent increase, without reducing services. 62% of respondents confirmed they would give us that support.
“Everything we do in the council should reflect our commitment to addressing poverty and inequality and continue to support the Plan for Fife. I am in no doubt that good quality, warm, safe housing is the bedrock at the heart of those commitments - and fundamental to addressing poverty and inequality. Housing must be at the heart of wellbeing. It is the place where you can develop in families; have space to study; have a base to call your own; and contribute positively to the community around you.
“In setting the rent for next year I, of course, recognise that for some tenants, there will continue to be difficulties due to Covid-19 in the coming year. Over 5,000 households have being helped by rent support this year. And, aligned to the 1.5% rent increase proposed today, we’ve made a commitment to provide a further £2 million rent support for tenants on Universal Credit or working households, who have had their employment disrupted by Furlough or uncertainty in these times.
“Today, we are very proud to announce very substantial investment of £250.7million in housing over the next three years.
“Tenants told us what their priorities are; home improvements, new council houses and energy efficiency. We can decide together how we progress these are services - through consultation – and through listening to each other.
"We have a house building programme to be proud of, involving our own Building Services and local companies in partnership with the Scottish Government, housing associations and private developers - to build not only houses, but to create jobs and apprenticeships and support our Fife economy.
"This is very good news in these challenging times and I thank all our tenants for the way in which they engage with us and support the Housing Service."