COUNCIL tenants have been warned that a rent freeze next year could bring with it cuts to services.

Consultation has now started on four options for 2023/24 put forward by the local authority and residents have until the end of January to submit their views.

They will be asked their preference on a rent freeze or rises of one per cent, two per cent or three per cent as efforts begin to balance the books for the budget setting meeting in February.

Housing spokesperson, Councillor Judy Hamilton, said it was an important decision for every household.

"Although December and January is a busy time of year, I hope that tenants will take this opportunity to have their say on rent options and let us know their housing priorities," she said. "We find ourselves in a time where inflation is around 11 per cent, interest rates are rising – and I am fully aware of the financial pressures that people under.

"Prices are rising, heating your home is more expensive, all the services we require cost more, and most importantly the cost of the food we need to feed our families has increased.

"With the increased financial burdens being faced this year, it is more important than ever that tenants use their vote and tell us how they feel about the rent they pay. These votes will help the decision that is made by Councillors at the Council budget setting meeting in February."

Cllr Hamilton said all the options were "significantly below" the inflation rate.

"There are going to be some challenges and pressures to the Housing Service in continuing to deliver services in the same way," she said.

"A rent freeze (zero per cent) means there will have to be cuts to services. In order to continue to operate at current service levels, £6.826m will have to be found to catch up with inflation.

"Based on the rent options proposed for 2023- 24, there are going to be pressures on services, which will be greater with lower percentage rent increases.

"A zero per cent increase or rent freeze will mean difficult choices and I would not like to have to make cuts. All of the remaining options represent some level of service reduction will need to be applied by officers.

"We can provide targeted support for tenants with rent increases, to help those who need our help the most. One of the things we are consulting you on, is tenant priorities. Rent support is one option. This is why we are asking tenants to tell us about their service priorities, as well as their preferred rent option. I will be meeting with our Tenants Federations to ensure that everyone's views are heard."

The tenant’s survey will be carried out through the Down Your Street magazine and will also be available online at until 31 January to give tenants the opportunity to share their views before councillors take final budget decisions in February next year.

The new rent level will be applied from April 2023.