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Minister rebuffs criticism over rent rise

The Health and Social Care Minister has defended his decision to increase public sector housing rents by five per cent from next year.

Howard Quayle has written an open letter to commissioners from three local authorities in the Island who've been critical of the move.

Mr Quayle says the rent rise makes subsidising low cost public housing more sustainable.

And he argues it's needed to fund future investment in new housing stock.

Commissioners from Onchan, Malew and Ramsey, in their own right and not on behalf of the authorities, wrote to Mr Quayle questioning the need for the rise.

The Minister has now responded, saying the rise strikes a balance between protecting vulnerable tenants and charging a fair rent for both tenants and taxpayers.

He points out the most vulnerable will be shielded from the rise through increases in benefits.

Mr Quayle says a £6 million gulf exists between the cost of providing social housing and the rental income it generates.

The rise, which was to have been 10 per cent, goes some way toward bridging it.

The commisisoners had argued means-testing should be a priority over a rent rise - and pointed out tenants will also face a rate rise, when £3 million worth of public services are passed from central to local government.

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