Council rent rise is record low

NORTH Lanarkshire Council has agreed the lowest rent increase in its history, but the SNP opposition accused the Labour-controlled authority of throwing money away.

The increase of 1.5 per cent in each of the next two years means tenants will pay on average just 79p more per week, nearly a third less than the current level of inflation.

A report from the executive director of finance stated the housing department needed an increase of 2.8 per cent to stand still, but the council decided to use £2.5 million of contingency money as a subsidy.

North Lanarkshire Council leader Councillor Jim McCabe said: “Thanks to sound financial management and the raft of savings elsewhere, we have been able to pass on some benefit to our residents.

“The people of North Lanarkshire face a potential future reduction in benefits and jobs due to the recession. While this historic rent announcement will not alleviate all of those pressures, we believe this is the best possible deal.”

In a break with tradition, the opposition SNP group argued that a higher rent increase of three per cent was required to carry out further housing improvements.

SNP group leader Councillor Richard Lyle said: “Had I suggested using the contingency money I would have been laughed at as I’m told ever year it can’t be touched.

“We have chucked money away because there are elections coming up in the next two years.”

Full story in February 17 edition of Times & Speaker