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Continuing support for tenants with the cost of living

Published: 31/01/2023
We're Continuing To Support Our Tenants With The Cost Of Living

A major £62m investment into our housing stock making homes warmer and fit for the future is just one of the key parts of the budget proposals to Barnsley Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 8 February.

The Housing Revenue Account budget, if approved by Cabinet, will be recommended to Full Council on Thursday, 23 February 2023.

If you're a Berneslai Homes tenant, your rent will increase by 6.5% from Monday 3 April 2023, according to the proposals. We know rent increases can be worrying, so we want to let you know what we’ll be delivering this year and also tell you what extra support is available to help you with the cost of living. Rents in Barnsley remain among the lowest regionally and nationally.

The cost of services and materials has increased more than inflation in the past year. Increasing the rent by 6.5% (an average weekly increase of £5.11 per property) means that we can continue to provide excellent services, carry out repairs, and deliver our planned programme of works so that our tenants are comfortable, safe, and living in good quality housing. 

We plan to invest more than £62m in our homes between now and 2027 on a variety of repair, maintenance, and improvement works. More than half of this is earmarked for energy efficiency improvements.

We’re working hard to create future-proof housing that's more cost-effective by carrying out works to upgrade the energy efficiency of all our homes, bringing them up to at least EPC C by 2030. We're committed to offering good value for money and these works will benefit our tenants directly by improving the quality and comfort of their homes, reducing energy usage and costs, and reducing condensation which can lead to damp and mould.

In addition to managing the property you live in, we’re also doing everything we can to care for our tenants and we have a great track record of supporting you to have more money coming into your household and less going out, thanks to the dedication and expertise of our Tenants First team.

You might be entitled to benefits or grants that you haven’t been claiming, or if you’re working but receiving a low income, support is available. Over the last 12 months, we’ve secured £988,000 in additional income for our tenants through grants, employment support, and benefit entitlement.

We also have a range of financial and practical support for those who need it, including a hardship fund to be set up as part of these budget proposals. We’ve been offering targeted support and getting help to many of our tenants from sources including the council’s Household Support Grant, the UK Prosperity Fund for those experiencing hygiene poverty, and our own hardship fund to help pay for things like utility bills and food shopping, making a total of £110,000 awarded to tenants to date.

Our message is clear: if you’re worried about the rent increase or struggling to pay any of your other bills or to buy essentials – please talk to us, we’re here to help.

Phone us on 01226 787878 and ask for the Income team, or for tenant support and advice, call 01226 787878 and ask for the Tenants First team or click here for more information.

Amanda Garrard, Chief Executive of Berneslai Homes, said: “We’re continuing to support our tenants through difficult times and our dedicated teams will look for every opportunity to help tenants get more money coming in and less going out so that they can afford to pay their rent and other essential bills. I encourage any tenant who is struggling with the cost of living to get in touch so that we can look at their circumstances and support them in the best way possible.”

Cllr Robert Frost, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “We’re working hard to make sure our borough will have a variety of housing, so you can live in the right home for you. Our council housing stock is a really important part of that and it’s vital we keep investing in maintaining and improving our homes.

“I’m pleased to see improvements to the repairs reporting process and the introduction of a new IT system which is going to further improve the experience for tenants.

“Through working with Berneslai Homes we’re making sure that we maintain the standard of our properties, and we continue to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. That’s helping our tenants control their energy use and their bills, as well as reducing our carbon footprint. We all have a part to play in helping Barnsley to be net zero carbon by 2045, protecting our borough for future generations.”

The More Money in Your Pocket campaign also includes information from Berneslai Homes and our partners on local activities, support, and advice to help with the cost of living. Click here to read more.

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