Our Cabinet is considering the Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2024/25 next week, which outlines our commitment to housing sustainability and meeting the needs of our communities. The report to be presented to Cabinet on Wednesday 24 January seeks to set the rent levels for Berneslai Homes tenants 2024/25.
Cabinet members will also be asked to approve the 2024-29 Housing Capital Investment Programme and the Berneslai Homes Management fee to all Berneslai Homes to manage lettings, tenancies and other works.
Our goal is to make sure that the council’s housing is maintained in line with decency standards and all legislative requirements, including investing in a new dedicated team to deal with damp and mould. We have also allocated significant funding to develop 200 new homes over the next five years through our New Build and Acquisition programme.
The proposal is to increase rent by 7.7%, in line with the funding formula provided by government. It will help us maintain decency standards in our housing stock, and help us deliver many of the improvements tenants have been asking for.
The proposed increase works out at an average of £6.47 a week. Many tenants on benefits will be unaffected by the increase as around 66% have all or part of their rent covered by benefits. We want to assure tenants who are affected by the increase that additional support is available for those who need it.
The rent for a three-bedroom council house in Barnsley is more than £300 per month cheaper than the average equivalent private sector rented property. It is also £180 per month lower than an average housing association property. Our council housing will therefore remain the preferred choice for most people in the rented sector. It provides excellent value for money for tenants, and the lowest rents of any social landlord.
Cabinet members will be advised there would be significant impacts to the council if rent was not increased by these levels. This increase will enable us to make sure we maintain decency levels across all our properties. It will also enable us to maintain our repairs programme, fund new homes and reach our carbon zero targets.
The rent increase also unlocks an estimated £3million to £4million additional support from government through the benefits system which would be lost if rent was not increased to this level. We don't receive other funding from government to fund maintenance to our council housing, meaning increasing rent is the only option we have to balance the budget.
Cllr Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: "This is about protecting the long-term future of council housing in Barnsley, ensuring we get investment in our stock, delivering the repairs and management support tenants require of us, and the longer-term financial stability that we need.
“Living in a warm, safe home is essential for staying healthy and well, and this is something that every resident in Barnsley should have access to.
“The proposed increase to tenants’ rent will help us to fulfil the needs of our tenants and will support our continued investment in council homes.
“We understand that the rising cost of living is a major concern for many people in our communities. If you need help managing your money, utility bills, food and housing, employment and skills, please visit our More Money in Your Pocket webpage for a range of help on offer.”
We’re committed to working with our partners to deliver on the priorities set out in the report and to continue to improve the lives of residents in Barnsley.