Councillors Docherty and McAllister.

Published 05 March 2020

A below-inflation rent increase has been agreed by Councillors for the third year in a row, according to West Dunbartonshire Council’s communications department.

However, the rent increase will have to be considered against the impact of an “inflation busting”  five per cent rise on Council Tax, which sources say was included in householders’ bills before it was agreed by the Council on Wednesday.

The decision to introduce a 1.9 per cent rise comes following extensive discussions with tenants over the past few months.

Tenants gave their views on three different options – with the chosen increase gaining 40.6 per cent of the vote.

The other options of a 2 per cent increase and a 2.5 per cent increase received 31.9 per cent and 27.5 per cent of the vote.

The SNP administration claims that a record number of tenants took part in the consultation, with 845 people having their say this year, up from 250 last year.

The process also involved close consultation and a workshop with West Dunbartonshire Tenants & Residents Organisation (WDTRO) who were able to give their input before the report was submitted.

Following the consultation, which began with a public meeting in October, a report was brought before Councillors to recommend choosing the tenants’ preferred option.

Brucehill says Yes 2

A typical West Dunbartonshire Council social housing property in Brucehill, Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney

The increase in rent will be used to fund an ambitious programme of investment in new and existing homes.

It is expected that more than 350 new homes will be delivered as part of the agreed budget, and work will begin on a range of improvements to enhance existing Council properties.

This will include 250 new central heating systems; 400 new roof coverings; 300 window/door renewals; 80 kitchen renewals; 600 electric shower installations, 3000 smoke/fire detector installations and 400 homes getting external insulated rendering.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “We are committed to involving our tenants in our rent-setting process and I am so pleased that their voice was heard loud and clear in this decision.

“The increased response to this consultation was absolutely fantastic to see and I hope we can continue to gather even more feedback going forward.

“We want to deliver the highest possible standards in our homes – both in our new builds and by making improvements to existing tenancies – while ensuring they remain affordable. This below-inflation increase will allow us to do that.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, Vice Convener of Housing and Communities, added: “This decision will allow us to deliver a better level of service and investment including enhancing kitchens, increasing the number of tenants with access to an electric shower and ensuring more homes than ever are insulated.

“Giving tenants the opportunity to have their say on this decision is hugely important and I’m really heartened to see such a large number of consultees this year. Thank you to everyone who took part.”

A decision to increase rents at the Dalreoch Travellers site by 1.9 per cent was also approved at the meeting.

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