A LARGE rent rise for housing association tenants has been slammed as "disgraceful".
Around 3,200 tenants of Hyndburn Homes will see their rents increase by an average of £164 a year compared to a national average of just £92 for tenants living in houses which are owned by their local councils.
Hyndburn Homes bought Hyndburn Council’s housing stock a number of years ago, leaving the borough with no council houses.
The leader of the council, Peter Britcliffe, said: "It is an absolute disgrace that people in Hyndburn should have to pay that much more.
"It is a scandal that people living in social housing will have to pay nearly double the amount they would have had to pay if they lived in a council-owned house."
According to Councillor Britcliffe, the Government initially decided to increase the rent of council houses by £184 but this was met by a barrage of complaints so it backtracked and said the increase would now be over a two-year period.
David Smith, Hyndburn Homes’ head of resources, defended the company, saying that any rent increases are controlled by the Government.
He said the company was trying to balance the needs of its residents with the desire to keep rents low.
Mr Smith said: "We have already informed our residents about the increase and the majority have accepted it."
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope also slammed Hyndburn Homes, saying: "It should take responsibility for its own actions rather than blaming the Government. It set the price increase for its properties.
"I think it is a real shame that it has chosen to raise the prices by that much, especially in the current climate."
Dave Parkins, who is a member of the Independent Party and a Hyndburn Homes tenant, said: "The rise was a bit steep especially as the service which I have received has been very poor.
"I have had problems with my kitchen floor and the bathroom fan.
"I believe that we are just paying for the company’s failures.
"It’s just not right. I initially opposed the plans to privatise housing in Hyndburn. I feel like we were bullied into switching from council houses."
Sharon Burton, 37, a Hyndburn Homes tenant from Juniper Court in Huncoat, said: "You don’t expect to have to pay more when you get less.
"It is going to have a really big impact on low-income families, who are facing potential job losses because of the credit crunch."