BERNESLAI Homes will need to make £1m of cuts – despite tenants facing an almost eight per cent rent increase from April.

At Wednesday’s Full Council meeting, an increase of 7.7 per cent was agreed as part of the council’s budget proposals.

On average, tenants will pay an extra £6.47 a week, increasing the average weekly rent from £83.94 to £90.41.

The meeting was also told the Berneslai Homes will need to make £1m of cuts.

A report to council said £500,000 has been set aside this year for tenant disrepair compensation.

But Coun Will Fielding, who represents the Dodworth ward, said the increase was ‘disappointing’.

They added: “It’s alarming to read that part of the budget is expected to rise to deal with an increase in the number of disrepair claims being made.

“Nobody should have to live in a property that is so detrimental to their health, and the council as landlord should be living up to its obligation to stamp it out.”

Coun Hannah Kitching, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that the group would be voting against the increase, adding that she had been contacted by residents who are ‘just not getting maintenance and repairs happening in an appropriate timescale’.

Leader of the council Sir Steve Houghton, however, said that without the increase, the council ‘wouldn’t be able to balance the books’ and would be at risk of issuing a Section 114 notice – effectively declaring bankruptcy.

“It’s a good job somebody in this council chamber is prepared to do the right thing and keep council housing afloat,” he added.