Budget to continue investment in council housing 

TENANTS of Rugby Borough Council properties will see their rents rise by 7.7 per cent from April, after councillors approved the council’s Housing budgets last night (6 February).
Rugby Borough Council logo
07 February 2024

The increase will allow the council to continue to invest in its housing stock and secure its future maintenance and repair. The investment programme will include new kitchens and bathrooms, boiler upgrades and accessibility adaptations. Last year 145 bathrooms were replaced, 300 new kitchens were provided, and 60 boilers were upgraded. 44 properties had adaptations such as level access showers, ramps and stairlifts.

Stock condition surveys, previously approved at the council’s meeting held in December, will help the council to prioritise investment in safe, warm homes, and the council will pay particular attention to how it manages voids – the time between one tenant moving out and another moving in that often requires extensive refurbishment or repairs.

Councillors at the meeting heard that good progress is being made at the former Biart Place site, where 100 new energy-efficient council homes are being built, and the deconstruction of the Rounds Gardens site is almost complete. Property acquisitions exceeded sales through Right to Buy by 24 in 2023/24, and 112 properties in Rokeby and Long Lawford are receiving external wall insulation through the Decarbonisation Fund.

The council will remain the lowest cost landlord in the borough. Around two thirds of council tenants currently receive help with their rent in the form of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

An amended motion that was accepted by all political groups will ensure that tenants who are struggling will get extra help and support.

Cllr Tim Willis, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Communities and Homes, said: “Our focus is on making sure that our tenants have low-cost, high-quality homes that they can afford to heat.

“The balanced and fair budget that we have set takes into account the need to continue investing in our stock while making sure that our tenants are able to afford their rent.”

Cllr Ish Mistry, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on Rugby Borough Council, said: “We reluctantly agreed with the council’s leadership on a 7.7 per cent increasing in rent, having taken advice from the Chief Financial Officer on the consequences of approving a lower increase.

“Our priority has always been with those people who will be most badly affected, vulnerable people and people with the greatest financial need.

“That’s why our amendment, that councillors approved, will see the council investigate how best to support people who are most in need, and help particularly those not receiving Universal Credit.

“We will seek regular updates about any measures that are taken.

“It’s vital that we do all we can to help people through the cost of living crisis.”

Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Rugby Borough Council, said: “Agreeing the rent levels will allow the Council to continue investing in its housing stock.

“I welcome the cross-party agreement on providing extra support and advice for vulnerable tenants.”

The council’s average rent will increase by £7.48 per week, with rent for a three-bed council house set at £115.81 per week. This compares to £118.50 in a housing association property or £273.57 in the private rented sector.