Council tenants face hike in rents

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COUNCIL tenants in North Tyneside are facing a hefty hike in their rents as the borough prepares for the new budget.

A rise of more than twice the rate of inflation – adding up to about £20 a month – looks to be on the cards as North Tyneside Council strives to balance its books for next year’s budget.

A proposed increase of 8.12 per cent – an extra £4.72 a week on average – was agreed at an extraordinary meeting of the council last week.

The suggested rise was put forward by Coun John Goodfellow, the authority’s cabinet member for housing.

Coun Goodfellow, a Benton ward councillor, acknowledged that asking tenants for an extra £5 a week could leave many struggling to make ends meet, saying: “I can reassure members and tenants that we will do all we can to mitigate the impact of this increase.”

The proposed rent hike was put forward as councillors discussed their service and spending review process for the next four years and their budget for the coming year.

Opposition councillors expressed concern about the size of the rise being lined up, saying it would hit the most needy people in the borough hardest.

Coun Muriel Green, of Weetslade, said: “I’m appealing for everyone here to have a joint effort to see if we can get some common sense and reduce the 8.12 per cent.

“I think we are doing the wrong thing.”

Coun Jim Allan, of Camperdown, added: “It will hurt the most vulnerable in the society, and we are going to do the damage to the people that rely on us.

“We have got to fight our corner.”

During a meeting lasting more than four hours, councillors were at loggerheads over the figures proposed, set in line with a new national rent restructuring policy all councils are required to follow, and it was even suggested that a cross-party group be created to complain to the government about the rent increase.

The proposed rise was given the thumbs-up, however, due to all Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors abstaining from voting on it.

Coun Michael McIntyre, of Whitley Bay, said: “We started with artificially low rents, so tenants have seen more than an average hike.

“I don’t think we have any other choice to vote for it, and we will explain to the tenants the position that we have been put in.”

The full council will meet again on Tuesday February 22, to debate the proposed rent rise further.

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