Frequently Asked Questions about Cannock Chase Council’s Social Housing Rent Increase 2020/21
Why are you increasing my rent?
We fully understand that any increase to your rent will not be good news. A revised rent setting policy for social landlords for the next 5 years was announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 4 October 2017, whereby increases to social housing rents will be limited to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% annually from April 2020. The CPI rate used will be from the September of the previous financial year as set out in the Government’s rent standard.
Therefore rents set in April 2020 are allowed to be increased by an amount up to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) set in September 2019, which was 1.7%, plus 1%.
We have given the rent increase a lot of thought and we believe that in order to deliver our priorities as set out in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan we need to maximise the money we receive from rents and therefore need to apply the maximum increase of CPI plus 1%, i.e. 2.7%.
Why did my rent go down the past few years?
In the Summer Budget 2015, the Government announced that rents in social housing tenancies would be reduced by 1% every year from April 2016 to March 2020, which was clearly welcomed by tenants but presented a significant financial challenge to the Council. This 4 year annual rent reduction was implemented through the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.
Do you have to increase my rent?
No, we don’t have to increase your rent; we could leave it as it is. However, this would mean spending less on our housing stock. Within our HRA Business Plan for 2020/21 we have budgeted for the rent increase from April 2020, which means we can deliver our promises to build more new homes, improve our neighbourhoods and invest in our existing Council homes. If we keep your rent as it is we simply cannot deliver on these priorities and we would have to make some tough choices to either build fewer new homes, to invest less in existing Council homes, or do less in your neighbourhoods - and we don’t think this would be fair.
By how much are you increasing my rent and how have you calculated this?
As explained above, Rents will increase by CPI +1%, that is 1.7% plus 1% which equals 2.7%. We will write to you at the end of February to confirm how much your weekly rent payment will be for 2020/21.
What will you spend the additional rental income on?
We have set out in our HRA Business Plan what we want to achieve over the next 3 years. The additional money we are able to raise from rents means we are on track to deliver these objectives. We will keep you informed regularly on how we are performing against the HRA Business Plan in the Annual Report to Tenants and the Hometalk magazine.
Will I see any benefits in my home and local community?
Absolutely, the reason we are applying the rent increase is so that you will see benefits to your own home but also in your wider neighbourhood and estates.
The HRA business plan contains programmes for improving the existing stock: replacement of kitchens and bathrooms, replacement/upgrades of central heating systems, upgrading of electrical systems; the building of new Council homes; and environmental improvements works on estates.
What do I do if I can’t afford the increase?
Our priority is to support tenants to sustain their tenancies and we want to help prevent rent arrears or other debts. We have a dedicated Tenancy Sustainment Service and Income Management Team working alongside the local Citizens Advice team who are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes to income or circumstances.
Please take advantage of this service now to help you prepare well ahead of the rent increase.
Your tenancy agreement states that you pay your rent in advance.
Can I have a breakdown of how you will spend my rent?
We commit to providing a full breakdown of how we spend your rent over the next 12 months. We will do this in our Annual Report to Tenants, which we will be delivered alongside your copy of Hometalk magazine, and also published on our website.
Can I have a Rent Statement?
Currently you can view your rent statement at any time online by registering on the Council website, ‘Self Service’. You can see the balance on each of your accounts, along with the current charge details. If you wish to see a full statement, click on the link against the account and it will show you all of your transactions. If you do not have a computer or electronic device you can contact the Income Management Team on 01543 464288 and they will send you a rent statement.
N.B- ‘Self Service’ is changing to Housing-on-line in May 2020
I claim Universal Credit: will I have to re-apply and will this result in weeks of delays in my rent being paid and accumulating rent arrears?
We appreciate that completing a Universal Credit claim can be very stressful and facing weeks of delays for any benefit payment is something we want to avoid. Please be assured you will not have to complete a brand new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once we write to inform you about your new rent you will simply need to inform them of this via the DWP portal (under ‘Your Journal’ just upload proof of the letter) or by visiting your local Job Centre after the rent increase has been applied. It is important that you do this soon after 1 April 2020 as we will then be asked to verify the increase on the Landlord portal. Please inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in your assessment period.
What if Universal Credit doesn’t cover the rent increase?
If your Universal Credit allowance doesn’t cover the additional rent increase, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see a member of our Income Management Team or contact Citizens Advice who can help you budget for the increase or establish if DWP have including your new rent in your assessment.
I don’t claim benefits; do I have to adjust my Direct Debit mandate with my bank or will you do this automatically for me?
You don’t need to worry, your Direct Debit will be adjusted automatically by our Income Management Team – you don’t have to do anything. When we write to you at the end of February notifying you of your rent increase, we will tell you this.
I don’t pay by Direct Debit; do I have to adjust my standing order with my bank?
You will need to work out your new rent payments to change your standing order or your regular payments.
For example how to work out monthly rent - Week rent of £71.00 x 52 weeks = yearly rent £3,692 divide by 12 is the monthly rent £307.67
We strongly recommend that you contact our Income Management Team who can help work out how much you should be paying and when.
What is the timescale for this rent increase?
The new rent increase notice letters informing you of the rent increase will be sent out to you with a minimum of one month’s notice. We will usually aim to have the letters delivered by the end of February and the beginning of March 2020.
Rent increases will apply from 1 April 2020
You can take part in our rent consultation below. Your responses are, and will remain, anonymous.
If you would like to make any comments on the proposed rent increase or have any further questions then please contact the Income Management Team on:
Telephone: 01543 462621
Last Updated: 14/02/2020