East Lothian Council approves rent freeze and £30m housing investment
East Lothian Council members yesterday approved an amendment tabled by the Administration to freeze rent on council properties for the year 2021/22.
Councillors also approved a capital budget of almost £30 million for 2021/22 for modernising existing council housing & investing in new council housing. The total spend on improvements and new stock over the next five years will be just over £175m.
An annual consultation on council rents took place slightly later this year and the proposed increase had been 2%, which is a lower level than the 5% increase from last year and as proposed in future years.
While 65% of tenants who responded to the consultation thought the proposed increase was a fair one, 47% also said that the COVID-19 pandemic had had a negative impact on their household finances.
Councillor Jim Goodfellow, East Lothian Council’s spokesperson for Housing, said: “I am very pleased that the Administration’s motion to freeze rent levels for a year was approved today. We had initially proposed a smaller increase than normal, taking into account the abnormal financial pressures placed on many households due to the current pandemic, but the result of the consultation showed very clearly that COVID-19 has had a severe impact on so many. We felt it was appropriate to freeze rent levels for a year to try to ease some of that pressure.
“Meanwhile, we will continue to invest in modernising our existing council homes and our own new council house build programme as well as working with the private sector and other social landlords to increase the availability of affordable homes across all tenures and across the whole of East Lothian over the coming years.”
Even with the lockdown of the construction sector earlier last year, the council has completed 80 new affordable units since April 2020. It has also secured starts on two sites which will deliver an additional 94 new houses over this calendar year and next with a further 163 units in the pipeline.