COUNCIL house tenants have been asked for their views on a potential rent increase – with the government’s formula suggesting an increase of 7.7 per cent for the upcoming year.

Last year Barnsley Council bosses, alongside Berneslai Homes, increased tenants’ rent by 6.5 per cent – slightly less than the maximum threshold increase of seven per cent.

A report, which was discussed by councillors last month, suggested that bosses would have to make some ‘difficult’ decisions to ensure the 18,000-strong housing stock meets the national requirements.

The discussion continued last week as tenants were asked to attend an event at Gateway Plaza on their views on the annual rent increase.

A spokesperson for Berneslai Homes said that given the current government guidelines, an increase of 7.7 per cent would be viable.

“Since 2019, under the Rent Policy for Social Housing, the government has applied a formula for rent increases, which has been set up to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate plus one per cent,” they added.

“CPI rate is currently 6.7 per cent so if we applied the formula for next year this would mean an increase of 7.7 per cent.

“However, we are currently living through exceptional times, with the cost-of-living crisis affecting many of our customers and their families and having an impact on customers’ ability to pay their rent.

“As a social housing provider helping those in most need in our communities, our aim is to achieve a balance between protecting tenants, protecting taxpayers, supporting the management and maintenance of existing stock and the delivery of new social housing.

“Should the government a propose a rent increase cap as they did last year, we would like your views on this and the prospects of applying a three per cent, five per cent or seven per cent cap.”

No decision has been made as of yet by the government – and so the views of residents are important to the local authority and Berneslai Homes.

“We’re committed to providing you with a good quality home and excellent services, which are value for money,” they added.

“We’re also helping tenants in other ways including tackling food and fuel poverty, creating training and employment opportunities, and finding ways of working that are more sustainable and better for the environment.

“We’re awaiting the final decision from government regarding the formula and whether, given the ongoing cost of living crisis, that a rent cap will be applied.”

The survey can be found online on the Berneslai Homes website.

The council are also working hard to ensure the housing stock can get to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C by 2030 – both the council and government target.

Though it’s expected that this will cost around £58m.

Coupled with the backlog of work that needs to be completed on home, rising costs are something councillors are working on.

“It should be noted that there is currently a backlog of planned works which is impacting on tenant satisfaction and resulting in an increase in complaints and disrepair cases,” a report said.

“The backlog originates from works which were reported but were unable to be completed in-year due to the large volume.

“It is a priority for Berneslai Homes and its contractor partners to complete these works as quickly and efficiently as possible, whilst ensuring that there is not an overspend situation in-year.”