At a full meeting of East Lothian Council today (Tuesday 20 February) councillors took the decision to approve a seven per increase for council tenants for 2024/25 to maintain services in the wake of a challenging financial position.

Council heard that a consultation had been carried out at the end of 2023 and the majority of respondents to the survey were supportive of an increase in rent although the majority had agreed to a lower, five per cent increase.

However, after the consultation process the Scottish Government announced a reduction in funding for new council houses in East Lothian of 26%. In real terms, as the funding is being fully directed to Housing Association projects, East Lothian Council has seen a full reduction in the funding available to us for new build homes. Councillors heard that this, together with the continued pressures of;

  • increasing interest rates
  • continued increases in materials and labour for repairing, maintaining, and improving tenants’ homes
  • additional costs for investing in existing homes to meet increasing standards for energy efficiency and to help achieve the Scottish Government’s ambitions to decarbonise heating
  • the reduction in income because of the two years of rent freezes in 2021/2 and 2022/3

has put enormous pressure on the housing revenue account and that a five per cent rent increase would have led to a paring back of the council’s new-build programme but also a reduction in the improvement programme and other services to existing council homes – something that tenants had identified as their top priorities.

Councillor Andy Forrest, Cabinet Spokesperson for Housing and Property Maintenance, said: “We know that this higher increase will be disappointing for our council tenants and it was a difficult decision to take. We do appreciate all the responses to our tenant survey and we have taken them into consideration.

“By implementing a seven per cent rise, we will be able to maintain and improve what residents have told us are their main priorities so we will be focusing on using rent income to continue our improvement programme, including the modernisation of kitchens and bathrooms; improving our void turnaround time; and improving our repairs and maintenance service. We will also be able to continue to invest in our new build programme which is important in helping us to meet the needs of our tenants and in meeting our statutory duties.”

The rent increase follows a five per cent increase last year and a rent freeze the two previous years and will increase the current average weekly rent from £76.69 to £82.06. 

Councillor Forrest added: “I understand the financial difficulties that some tenants continue to experience. If anyone is having difficulty paying their rent they can get confidential advice from our Rent Income Team on 01620 827528. 

“We have also produced a leaflet specifically about available financial support and a range of information on maximising your income, all at”

Council also approved a Housing Revenue Account budget for 2024/25 of just under £41 million, an increase of around £3.4 million on last year, which will be spent on service costs including repairs and staffing. The Capital budget of around £31.5 million will be invested in new council housing, modernisation, extensions and energy efficiency improvements to existing council properties.

Published: Tuesday, 20th February 2024