HARD-PRESSED council tenants are being dealt a fresh blow as Castle Point Council looks set to raise rents by almost £200 a year.
The authority is considering raising fees by an average of £3.81 a week, meaning on average residents will have to pay £89.09 a week from April 7.
This represents a 4.47 per cent increase on last year’s figures, which saw people paying £85.28 a week. Rents on garages in the borough could also be raised by £1 a week.
However, Jeffrey Stanley, deputy leader of the council, says every penny will be ploughed back into bringing the council properties up to scratch.
The council estimates it will spend around £2.5million in 2014/15 on refurbishing itscouncil homes, including £600,000 on roof maintenance, £590,000 on electrical rewiring, £296,000 on replacing bathrooms and £200,000 on developing communal areas.
Mr Stanley said: “Every penny which is received in council house rents stays in our housing revenue account, because it is ring fenced.
“Rent will go up, but that extra money will be spent on repairs and capital improvements and we have a big programme of work ahead. So, we are going to spend £2.5million on putting in new kitchens, roof repairs, and so on which will benefit council tenants.”
Last year rents were raised by £2.91 a week, which saw tenants paying an extra £151.32 a year.
Opposition councillor Dave Blackwell said many families will struggle with this year’s rent rise.
Mr Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “An extra £3.81 a week is outrageous.
“We have had rent increases year on year and it’s just not on.
People can’t afford it.
“The council is trying to keep up with private rental prices, but the majority of people in these council houses are on low income and benefits, so they will struggle to afford this.”
A decision on the proposals will be made at a cabinet meeting from 6pm tomorrow at the council offices in Kiln Road, Thundersley.
RESIDENTS say they will have to cut back on spending in other areas to cope with rising rents, it has been claimed.
Ann Badger, 69, of The Rundels, Thundersley, says she will have to tighten her purse strings even further.
Mrs Badger said: “Although we do get help paying our rent, I don’t think we could really afford to pay any more.
“But there’s not much you can do about it, if it has to be paid it has to be paid. We pay all our bills at different stages of the month, so it’s not coming out all at once.
“If rents rise again we will just have to do without something else, that is what we have to do. We have been at rock-bottom before, so years ago we learnt to economise. But I think more and more people are turning to short term loans.”