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Rent freeze calls to housing groups

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By Amy Duffy
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Rent freeze calls to housing groups
A FORMER leader of Dumfries and Galloway council has written an open letter to Loreburn Housing Association requesting them to consider a rent freeze.
John Dowson wrote that he had recently resigned from the committee of Loreburn Housing Association but if he had stayed on, he would have raised the option of a 12 month rent freeze for tenants.
As of March 2021, Loreburn had 2500 houses with a cash position of around £1.6 million and Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) has 12,000 houses with a cash position of around £70 million.
Mr Dowson, right, argued that due to the very healthy state of the association’s cash reserves a rent freeze can easily be afforded, with it being a necessary measure due to rapidly rising prices for energy, food and other essential supplies.
He concluded his letter with: “I am calling on you, as convener of a charitable social landlord, to personally back a rent freeze for at least 12 months.
“There is a precedence for a rent freeze in Loreburn as I believe the committee previously granted a rent freeze in past years.
“It is urgently needing to be considered now.”
Convener of Loreburn’s management committee Russell Brown responded: “We’re very aware of the rising costs many of our tenants are facing and considered this very carefully alongside what tenants have told us are their priorities – which are investment into improving homes and reducing running costs.
“The two per cent increase we believe is a balanced approach and will be used to fund a larger improvement programme this year of £2.23 million, up from £1.5 million in the current financial year and £845k in the year before.
“A rent freeze would risk many of the issues already faced by tenants being made worse by the lack of forward planning and future investment.”
DGHP also commented on the letter, with managing director Alan Glasgow saying: “The rent levels agreed have allowed us to expand and strengthen our frontline services during the pandemic and to deliver £36 million of improvements in existing homes to date. The group’s charitable organisation, Wheatley Foundation, has worked hard to support families across Dumfries and Galloway throughout the pandemic.
“This has involved everything from delivering emergency food packages and supermarket vouchers to creating new jobs, apprenticeships, training opportunities and bursaries.”
Both associations urged any of their tenants struggling to pay their rent to get in touch with them through the contact section of each organisations website.
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