A LOCAL councillor said the plan to increase rents for council tenants ‘wasn’t an easy decision’ - but the long-term goal will help residents further in the future.

It was revealed last week that councillors will consider rent charge increases for 2023/24, and the plans will now be discussed by all councillors later this month.

Berneslai Homes say the 6.5 increase will come into effect on for all its 18,500 properties on April 3.

The increase is just under the government’s rent cap increase of seven per cent in acknowledgement of the cost-of-living crisis.

The report states the increase is proposed on the basis that additional support will be put in place for tenants who are directly affected.

It’s also hoped it will allow investment to improve the energy efficiency of homes.

The leader of Barnsley Council, Sir Steve Houghton, added: “We do recognise that a 6.5 per cent rise is a substantial increase but it is below the government target.

“My understanding is that this is likely to be at the lower end of increases where local authorities still own housing stock.

“To balance the books it would be 5.5 per cent as a minimum - that one per cent leads to a £37m investment into the stock.

“I think that one per cent equates to about 79p a week whilst the saving in bills would run four, five six pounds a week because of the insulation work that is being done.

“We do recognise that some tenants may struggle which is why there is some funding there where we can help tenants.”

Coun James Higginbottom added: “This isn’t an easy decision to come to when putting rents up for our tenants.

“I think in terms of the mitigation set out it’s the right approach.

“It’s about making the long-term transformation of the housing stock.”