WEE COUNTY council tenants are bracing themselves for a 6.7 per cent increase to their rent, starting from April 1.

Councillors made the unanimous decision to hike rents on Thursday morning, claiming there were no other options on the table.

Ellen Forson, council leader, said: “Personally, I don’t want to increase rents to that level. But there is no alternative to it at this time.

"I do think we have to bear in mind the impact of the cost of living crisis on our communities – we have a responsibility to keep rents as low as possible for tenants, but the evidence shows that we must increase them to this level.” 

Rents were put up by 6.7 per cent as part of the 2024-25 Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget. 

The council’s administration claimed that anything less would have led to a serious and unacceptable budget gap, as well as higher rent increases in future years.

A council report said: “A rent freeze would lead to a deficit position of £26million which would not be financially viable and a budget could not be set on this basis.

“A rent increase of 5.7 per cent would result in a loss of available capital funded from Current Revenue (CFCR) of £18million.”

In light of those figures, councillors unanimously agreed that there was no choice but to put up rent prices this year. 

Cllr Jane McTaggart, SNP, defended the quality of council housing in Clackmannanshire, and said the rent rise will protect that quality and serve to protect investment and improvement plans. 

Labour's Kenneth Earle was of the same opinion and added: "I don’t like making rent rises. However, the situation we currently find ourselves in at the moment means we don’t have any choice. You’ll have my support."

The hike will increase the average council rent from £80.23 in 2023-24 to £85.62 per week. 

Cllr Forson continued: “It might seem a small amount, but £3-£4 per week can be a lot of money to people already struggling with the cost of living crisis.

“I don’t think anyone wants to put additional burdens on tenants at this time, but we’re left with no choice.” 

Like others, Cllr McTaggart was reluctant to see rents go up, but she insisted that it is a matter of protecting the HRA’s capital plan and about protecting the quality of the council’s housing stock. 

“Serious consideration of the future Capital Plan is an important part of this paper,” she said.

“That includes new kitchens, bathrooms, and more to improve the living conditions and home environments of our tenants.

"Anything lower than a 6.7 per cent rent increase poses a real risk to our capital plan which would reduce the quality of our housing stock.” 

The rent increase – alongside a 6.7 per cent to lock-up garages – and the HRA budget were all approved unanimously by councillors on Thursday.

The increases will come into effect on April 1.