‘We will have nothing left’: Council hikes up social rent for residents and community centres

A cash-strapped council plans to hike rent prices across all its social housing and community centres in the borough. 

Bromley council has increased social rent by 7.7 per cent, the maximum amount allowed by a local authority.

Dermot McKibbin, 70, a Bromley resident and Labour activist living in Foxgrove Road, Beckenham, said increased rates will “cause hardship” for council tenants in the borough.

He said: “These are only net figures, not the full costs residents will face – service charges need to be added on top, like heating, which isn’t included in housing benefit.

“These increases will likely increase homelessness, with the cost of energy already disproportionately hitting low-income households.”

Dermot McKibbin said increased rates will “cause hardship” for council tenants in the borough (Picture: Dermot McKibbin)

Starting in April, the increase of nearly eight per cent will see weekly rents going up by almost £14 for one-bedroomed properties, taking the cost to £194.

Rents for two and three-bedroomed homes will increase from £191 to £205 and from £201 to £216. 

The maximum social housing rent rise is based on the consumer price index from September last year, with an added one per cent increase.

Mr McKibbin said: “Council tenants already face bedroom tax so a single person in a two-bed flat has their housing benefit restricted to a one-bedroom flat.”

The local authority said it was facing increased pressures from an insufficient supply of accommodation.

Melvin Hall faces a 114 per cent hike in rent, proposed by the council to start in March (Picture: Melvin Hall)

Mr McKibbin said: “There have been major cuts in government funding to councils, Bromley is rehousing people outside the borough because they don’t have enough properties – it’s breaking up families and pulling children out of schools.”

Bromley council has also proposed rent increases for 152 voluntary sector organisations across the borough.

One community centre, Melvin Hall, in Melvin Road, Penge, faces a 114 per cent increase in rent – from  £27,500 to £58,835 per year – starting in March.

John Clyde, 70, of Mackenzie Road, Beckenham, who runs the centre, said: “We pay everything ourselves – kids’ parties bring in the money. We will have nothing left.”

The community centre in Penge runs vital services for vulnerable people in the area including  a regular food bank as well as narcotics anonymous and clothes washing for the homeless (Picture: Melvin Hall)

The centre runs several services for vulnerable people including a food bank, clothes washing for the homeless, narcotics anonymous, diabetes classes, a lunch club and warm spaces for people without a home.

Mr Clyde said: “The impact for people in the area will be huge if we close. 

“The council doesn’t care about people – they’re closing everything – there is no concern here.”

Organisers of Melvin Hall have set up a petition against the rent increases at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-rent-hikes-at-melvin-hall

Bromley council has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: Bromley Civic Centre and Bromley resident Dermot McKibbin (Picture: Google Street View/Dermot McKibbin)

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