PROPOSALS to increase rent for council tenants by 1.5 per cent have been approved.

The decision to raise rents will allow Fife Council to press on with their capital investment plan which will see £250m ploughed into housing over the next three years.

Repairs and new affordable housing are included as part of the planned spending.

From April, the average weekly rent for council tenants will go up from £75.45 to £76.58, the lowest rise for several years to help householders with any adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, convener of the Housing Services Committee, said consultation had been carried out before deciding the increase.

"We had to do things slightly differently this year," she said. "We are still able to work with tenant forums. With that information we were open and transparent and tenants are very well aware of what they get for their money.

"We consulted on the rent option asking if they would support a one and a half per cent rent increase. 62 per cent confirmed they would give us that support. Tenants told us what their priorities are – home improvements, new council houses and energy efficiency.

"We have all become acutely aware of the importance of good quality housing in providing shelter and security throughout the pandemic. We want to make sure council tenants continue to have a safe place to live."

At Thursday's full council meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Jonny Tepp asked for the decision to be put off until next month, saying the increase was unfair.

“If you live in an affordable home and you don’t claim housing benefit, life will be more difficult next year in terms of the rent you have to pay," he said. "These householders will be worse off by around £60 a year."

Dunfermline South councillor James Calder seconded Cllr Tepp's motion.

"It has been a torrid year for many including many of our tenants," he said. "We know there has been financial hardships. I think we need to look at something we have control over here. We need to see all the options and impacts they will have including a zero per cent increase.

"We need to see all this before we weigh in on a decision."

However their move was slammed by council co-leader David Ross who branded the motion as "cynical and opportunistic to the extreme".

He said: "You are telling people what you think they want to hear because you think it will be popular and using it as a way to make all sorts of other political points.

"You want to look at what the consequences are. You should have done your homework on this and you have had several months to do that.

"Do you think we have not done our best to see if we could freeze the rates? We have looked at what the consequences are and they are no in favour of our tenants. That is why we have the best way forward with the most modest increase we can actually manage."

Fellow co-leader Councillor David Alexander described the Liberal Democrat motion as "total ignorance."

He added: "It is simple. If we don't increase the rents by 1.5 per cent, the risk to the capital plan is too great."

Councillors voted the rent increase through by 51 votes to 15 with three abstentions.