Swindon Borough Council is consulting with its tenants about how much rent they should pay for their homes from this April.
The consultation comes after a new system for funding council housing came into force last year.
Under the Government’s ‘Self Financing’ arrangements, which replaced the subsidy system of council housing finance, the Council took on £140million of the national council housing debt from April 1 last year.
Although the Council now gets to keep all of the £46million it receives from tenants in rents and service charges, it now needs to pay £5million a year alone in interest on the debt and will need to pay off the £140million while continuing to invest in the Council’s housing stock.
In Swindon there are over 13,000 tenants living in 10,500 homes, while the rent for a council house is generally around 50% of market rents. The Council also has a good track record of providing services with 74% of calls answered within six rings and, in a recent survey, 96% of tenants indicated that they were satisfied with the repairs service.
Cllr Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for One Swindon, Localities and Housing, said: “As a Council we are very proud of the services that we provide to over 13,000 tenants in Swindon and I am really grateful for the many tenants who take time to participate in consultations and other activities.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure tenants live in high quality homes, but we can only spend what we collect in rents. This means we need to balance keeping rents affordable with the need to continue to improve homes, build new homes and pay off the debt.
“I really hope every tenant will take the time to have their say. For people who may not be able to get to meetings they can make comments on the Swindon Housing Facebook page, write to Housing Services (Rent Consultation),
Civic Offices, Swindon, SN1 2JH or email: firstname.lastname@example.org”
People can find out more information about the consultation in the Council’s Housing Matters publication for council tenants, via the e-Housing newsletter and on the Swindon Housing Facebook page.
There are further opportunities for tenants to take part in the consultation at the following meetings:
Thursday, 10 January, Swindon Tenants’ Voice at 6pm
Wednesday, 23 January, Housing Advisory Forum at 6pm
Tuesday, 29 January, Leaseholder Link meeting at 6pm
Monday, 13 February, The Tenants’ Association for Sheltered Housing at 2pm
All the meetings will be held at the Civic Offices in Euclid Street and all are welcome.