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Southwark Council: keeping social rent affordable for Londoners

Published Wednesday, 06 August 2014

Southwark Council

As rent and house prices continue to rise, Southwark Council is keeping to its pledge to keep council rents below £100 per week on average.

With almost half of Southwark's households earning less than £15,000 and over 36,000 households living in council homes, every effort must be made to help those who struggle just to afford a roof over their head, particularly in London where rents are extremely high.

A fine balance must be sought in ensuring that rent is kept low but that enough income is generated into the housing revenue account (HRA) to safeguard the cost of frontline council services.

Earlier this year, when the decision on rent levels was taken, the council considered a range of options and the budget implications arising from a rent increase lower than the government's rent formula of 5.4 per cent and resolved to halve the increase to 2.7 per cent.

This means that rents for council tenants in Southwark will remain below £100 per week on average. The council has, over the past four years, made efficiency savings of £27.5m in its housing revenue account which enables the budget to absorb the impact of the lower rent increase without affecting service delivery.

On top of this, the council continues to support those most in need of help with paying rent by keeping future social rent increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1 per cent over the next four years. There is a further commitment not to increase tenants' service charges, garage charges, heating or hot water costs or any charges to those living in sheltered housing.

Despite being a central London borough that borders the river, Southwark Council is already ranked eleventh cheapest rent in London of 33 boroughs for social rent and the intention is that Southwark continues to be one of the least expensive places for council tenants to rent in London.

Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for housing, said: "London is a tough place to find affordable housing right now, but we're leading the way in showing that it can be done - we can and will supply genuinely affordable homes and we can take decisions to keep rent as low as possible for those most in need in our council homes.

"I would hope that other councils across the country can see that the example we set makes it possible for people to afford to live anywhere they wish, near their families and friends, even in places considered 'unaffordable'."

As well as helping the poorest people in the borough, investing £326m to make every council home warm, dry and safe and adopting a Southwark Standard for homes in the private sector, the council is committed to supporting people of all backgrounds and incomes to find affordable housing - with a huge demand and short supply, the council is already building 11,000 new council homes, at target rent, over the next 30 years.

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