Thursday February 25th 2021
Council tax will be frozen and rent increases postponed for the coming year in Midlothian.
Councillors voted to halt a planned increase of 3 per cent in council tenants’ rent, as well as freeze any increase on council tax at a virtual meeting today.
Officers told elected members that putting the rent increase on hold for tenants would have a “negligible” effect on its future plans for investment in housing.
And a further report revealed that the Scottish Government had provided funds to cover the equivalent of a 3.1 per cent council tax increase if they agreed to freeze payments.
The decision to scrap a rent increase for the coming year received cross-party support from councillors.
Councillor Stephen Curran, Labour, said that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis was still to be seen from an economic point of view and welcomed the additional support for families.
He said: “Many tenants face uncertainties and to continue with rent increase at this time would simply be wrong.
“It would only make a bad situation worse for many residents.”
His view was backed by Councillor Catherine Johnstone, SNP, who added: “Our residents have faced enormous challenges and I think the rent increase could have been the final straw for many families.”
Councillors were told during the meeting that rent arrears had grown by £500,000 since April last year – an increase of 31 per cent of money owed to the council.
Officers warned that going ahead with the proposed rent rise created a risk “that may lead to housing applicants and tenants on lower incomes being unable to afford the rents”.Tweet Share on Facebook