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Mid Suffolk: Concerns over council rents increase

PUBLISHED: 13:00 16 January 2013

Andrew Stringer, opposition leader at Mid Suffolk, has expressed concern over the planned rents increase

Andrew Stringer, opposition leader at Mid Suffolk, has expressed concern over the planned rents increase

Archant

A COUNCIL has voted for a proposed increase in housing rents despite councillors voicing concerns over the rise.

Councillors spoke at Mid Suffolk District Council’s executive meeting on Monday with seven members voting for and four against.

Councillor John Field said the increase would hit “some of the most disadvantaged people” in Mid Suffolk.

Council officers said the increase was needed to help reduce the housing loan debt of £82million and because of a reduction in rental income as leaseholders had bought their homes.

Opposition leader Andrew Stringer, of the Green Party, said he found the situation “incredible”.

He said: “The Right to Buy scheme is causing cost pressures to people who remain in social housing. Something is fundamentally wrong if that’s the case.

“I really feel I cannot face people on the doorstep because more people than expected are buying their properties from us.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Penny Otton said: “This year there’s no way we will be able to support an increase of 4%. We would be looking at a really low increase.

“With the very fact that people are going to be faced with a lot of uncertainty about benefits, they are entitled to know just how concerned we are.”

Liberal Democrat councillor, John Field, said if workers did get any pay rise they were only getting about 1%.

He said: “Some of the most disadvantaged people are facing a 4% increase. It seems difficult to justify in these circumstances.”

Councillors were told if they voted for a 3% increase the council would face a deficit of £300,000 for their plans to meet the housing loan debt.

Council leader Derrick Haley said: “It seems a difficult case and I can understand why members have said what they have.

“But we have to look at the future and we are not going down the road to make this council have financial problems in the future.”

Full council is set to meet on February 21 to approve the plans as part of the draft housing revenue budget.

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