‘We have no alternative’: Council to hike social housing rent by 7.7%

By Charlotte Lillywhite, Local Democracy Reporter

The average weekly rent for council tenants in Wandsworth is set to rise by £10 in April.

Wandsworth council’s housing committee agreed plans to increase social and affordable rent levels by a maximum of 7.7 per cent on Tuesday.

The plans would see the average weekly rent for council tenants in Wandsworth rise from £138.82 to £148.86.

The changes would affect 16,776 tenancies in the borough. The council is set to further consider the proposals and make a final decision on February 7.

A report by council officers said the proposed rise in weekly rents would protect the long-term viability of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) business plan, which sets out the income and expenditure relating to the authority’s housing stock.

The report argued the proposals strike “an appropriate balance between affordability for tenants and the responsibility and requirement for maintaining existing stock to a decent standard”.

Rent levels for council tenants in temporary accommodation at Nightingale Square and those living in properties with shared ownership agreements would also increase by a maximum of 7.7 per cent, in line with the proposals.

Conservative councillor Kim Caddy raised concerns about the planned “huge increase” in weekly rents at the meeting on Tuesday.

She said: “This will genuinely have a real effect on people’s budgets and we’ve already seen that arrears are increasing. It’s going to put huge financial pressure on people.”

Brian Reilly, executive director of housing and regeneration, said: “We have no alternative. 

“We can barely do what we need to do and if you start accepting that we don’t charge the rents that enable us to maintain our stock, we will have disrepair, our stock will fall into misuse, our estates will be worse, we won’t have the resources to do the basics.”

Some tenants have their rent met in full by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. Residents in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit can apply to the council for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help pay their rent if they are struggling to meet the total cost.

The committee also rubber-stamped plans to add £126.2million to the HRA up to the 2026/27 financial year, bringing the total to £714.8million. 

This extra cash would fund further repairs and improvements to homes and estates, along with building and buying properties.

Pictured top: Wandsworth council (Picture: Sian Bayley)

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