Thousands in Norwich face rent and council tax increases

Norwich City Council's cabinet has recommended that council tax and council house rents are increase

Norwich City Council's cabinet has recommended that council tax and council house rents are increased. - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

Thousands of people who live in the city's council houses are likely to face a rent increase of about £1.14 a week.

Norwich City Council's controlling Labour cabinet tonight agreed to recommend an average 1.5pc increase on rents for its 15,500 council tenants.

But the cabinet pulled back from using the government's own rent restructuring system, which would have seen an average increase of 5.57pc and tenants paying about £4.20 more a week.

The council had asked tenant representatives and said many appreciated that increases were inevitable if the authority was to continue to invest in housing stock.

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for housing, said: 'I am recommending a 1.5pc increase because people are having to make financial choices about food and heat.

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'We have got to face up to it that at this moment, the important thing is to stick with a small, below inflation increase.

'Maybe in the future, in different times, we can do things in different ways, but at the moment we have got to face up to the economic circumstances of most people.'

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Alan Waters, deputy leader of the council, said in most cases people's housing benefit would rise to cover the increase.

He said: 'I very much hope private landlords and others across the city will follow our example and recognise how hard pressed people are in the current climate.'

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, welcomed the recommendation to keep the increase below inflation.

He said: 'I am very pleased cabinet has seen sense and is not going for the 5.57pc increase, but for a 1.5pc increase, which is much more manageable.'

Money from the rent increases remains with the council and can be used for investing in housing stock and building new council homes.

The cabinet also recommended a 1.97pc increase on its share of the council tax. If agreed by full council, that would see a Band B property paying an extra £3.49 a year and a Band D property paying an extra £4.49.

The full council will make a final decision on whether to impose the increases on Tuesday, February 18.

• What do you think of the increases? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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