COUNCIL rents should have been frozen to give tenants a break during the pandemic, according to an opposition councillor.
RMBC members approved a 1.5 per cent increase at last Wednesday’s meeting, along with a two per cent increase in charges for garages, communal facilities, cooking gas and use of laundry facilities.
Lib Dem Cllr Adam Carter said the rise was “beyond belief” — when the Labour party had been calling for council tax to be frozen.
“Families are struggling in the borough, and this is something this Labour administration can change,” he added. “This council should be freezing rents this year.
“Instead, it is choosing to make life harder for struggling families in Rotherham despite the council’s self-stated ‘healthy financial position’.
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Cllr Sue Ellis, Labour, said: “During Covid times, it has become absolutely apparent how important it is that your house is not just a house but a home.
“Where we can not only get respite from the outside world but actually where you can work.
“It’s more important than ever that adults and children have decent facilities in their homes, that they’re warm and comfortable, so that they can fulfil their potential, both at work and at school.
“Those sentiments span across the new builds and the maintenance of our council homes.”
Cllr Dominic Beck, cabinet member for housing, said the increase was in line with the government formula.
The average weekly increase would be £1.12 — and most tenants would not feel the full effect because they are on some level of benefits, he added.
Charges for the district heating schemes remain at the same level as agreed in late 2017.