RENT for council tenants will be frozen for a year in the Wee County, elected members unanimously agreed today.

The decision, taken at a full council on Thursday February 11, means that tenants of Clackmannanshire Council will not see their rents increase in April.

It comes after councillors were told that 69 per cent of tenants, who were responding to a survey, agreed or strongly agreed with the proposed rent freeze.

Elected members also heard that some planned improvement works to council homes had been unable to go ahead over the past year due to coronavirus restrictions.

They were reassured by officers that no planned works will be cancelled and that a revised investment plan will be presented in the near future.

Moving the proposals was SNP Councillor Craig Holden, who chairs the Place Committee.

He told the virtual Kilncraigs chamber: “The service received 676 responses, which is quite a remarkable return, and a result of that the consensus is that a one-year rent freeze would be appropriate.

“As the report indicates, Clackmannanshire Council rent levels compare favourably with most councils in terms of their rent levels.

“The report also highlights the fact we have considerable underspend in our capital programme, many of these tenants may not have received improvements this year that they would have expected.

“These will, however, be delivered in time.”

Cllr Dave Clark, who leads the Labour Group, agreed the rent freeze would benefit people.

He said: “People have had a tough year, they are weary and we should be as kind and gentle as we possibly can and we would be supportive of this rent freeze, I think it's a good thing.

“There are those who might be a little cynical and say: 'well, it's an election year of course and the SNP would do it' but I would cut you enough slack to say it's from the perspective of: people have had a bad year and it's the right thing to do.

“And it is the right thing to do.”

Conservative leader Cllr Martha Benny added: “I would support this paper as well.

“As it has been said, it's been a tough year for everyone and with a lot of extra money having to be used for electricity and heating – it's a little bit, as Derek [Cllr Stewart] said, a light at the end of the tunnel that helps people to get by during this time.

“And hopefully, we'll see a bigger light at the end the tunnel by March-April and people can start getting back to normal.”

MSP Keith Brown welcomed the move.
He said: "A freeze on rents is good news for council tenants and will be a real help relief for many facing reduced incomes as a result of the global pandemic.
"I am really pleased that Clackmannanshire Council has been able to do this.
“This comes on top of the announcement by the Scottish Government making £90million available for a national Council Tax freeze.
“The cold weather may be making our lives harder in some ways but these big freezes will be very welcome indeed.”