News from Bolton at Home
Here you'll find our most recent news articles, from important tenant updates and new housing developments, to new community initiatives and activities.
What you’ll pay from April
If you’re a customer, you should have received or will soon receive a letter about the new charges you’ll pay for your home from Monday 4 April 2022.
If you haven’t got a letter from us by Monday 7 March, or would appreciate some support, please phone us on 01204 328000.
Here’s a general guide to the rent level for tenants from April.
Why are rents increasing?
As a social housing provider, we keep our rents as affordable as possible. However, we need to pay for the rising costs of providing essential services.
Without increasing rents to match these rising costs, we would have to significantly scale back or slow down our plans to maintain and improve homes, services and neighbourhoods. It would also impact our ability to build new homes that help more people have a safe and affordable place to live.
These rising costs to maintain and repair homes can be seen in the prices of raw materials. Prices had already risen sharply since the start of the pandemic. And at the end of last year the price of cement was forecast to increase again by 19%, new plasterboard by 12%, insulation by 10.5%, plus various increases in the costs of timber and metal products for doors and windows as examples.
Source: Markhams Building Costs Management
How are rent increases calculated?
The rents we charge, and any increases we’re allowed to make, must follow guidelines and laws established by the government.
Current government policy allows housing associations to make rent increases that are calculated by combining a cost-of-living increase, which is set using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, plus an additional 1%.
CPI is a figure used to measure inflation. It reflects how much the price of common goods and services changes over time across the UK. CPI is higher than last year because the cost of goods and services has increased more sharply than it has done in previous years.
Housing providers must use the previous September’s CPI to calculate rent increases for the financial year starting the following April. In September 2021, CPI was 3.1% - therefore rents for 2022/23 will increase by up to 4.1% (3.1% CPI plus the additional 1%).
What is my rent money spent on?
We’re a not-for-profit organisation and the rent we collect from you goes directly back into repairing and maintaining homes and funding vital services that support our tenants.
It lets us improve the energy efficiency of homes to enable tenants to use less fuel to heat their homes and meet carbon reduction targets. It allows us to invest in building new homes to help more people have an affordable place to live. It also supports the other vital services we provide such as helping people to gain skills, training and employment.
How do I know my rent money is being spent wisely and in a way that benefits me?
In December 2021, we surveyed 110 tenants who are members of our consultation group Resident Voices. We asked them how we should prioritise the spending of any rent increase.
The responses showed that tackling our backlog of repairs (caused by the Covid-19 pandemic), improving homes and neighbourhoods, helping tenants to reduce bills through smart meters and other green initiatives, and tackling antisocial behaviour are some of our tenants’ biggest priorities- and we’ll match these with investment.
In response, this year we’ll put over £1m into resourcing an additional team to address the backlog of repairs. We also plan to invest an extra £8m into delivering energy efficiency works over the next five years.
We’re also aiming to find £1.4m of savings from business efficiencies over the next three years.
How do Bolton at Home rents compare with other housing providers?
The rent increase will happen right across the social housing sector. All the Greater Manchester Housing Providers are increasing their rents by 4.1%.
Social housing tenants in Bolton, especially those with Bolton at Home, have historically paid lower rents compared to other parts of Greater Manchester. This means the cost to rent your home with us will continue to compare favourably with similar properties both locally and regionally.
Will service charges be increasing this year?
If you pay service charges, most service charges are planned to increase by the inflation rate of 3.1% though some will rise by more.
We calculate the charges you’ll pay based on what it costs us to provide these services. We won’t be making a profit.
We face significant increases in electricity and gas costs. We therefore need to increase heating charges by £3 per week for smaller properties and £3.30 per week for larger properties. This follows £2 per week reductions in these charges in April 2021.
Also, if you live in one of our sheltered housing, extra care or independent living schemes, the charges you’ll pay reflect the specific support services provided where you live. As you’ll know from previous consultation with you, we’ve been subsidising what you’ve paid since 2015 when the government stopped providing funding through the Supporting People grant. We’ll continue to minimise the impact on you however you’ll pay more for your services from April as the amount of subsidy we can provide will reduce.
All service charges are regulated by law and housing organisations can’t charge more for a service than it costs.
What should I do if I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep up with payments?
If you’re concerned, please contact us as soon as possible on 01204 328000. We’ll do what we can to help.
We can give you advice and support on managing your rent payments and other bills, as well as checking if you’re eligible for any entitlements or allowances that you might be missing out on.
Latest TAP4 issue
In this issue:
- Friendly faces in familiar places - Bolton Manbassadors
- Tips from Tom to help with rising energy costs
- Be aware of doorstep fraudsters
- Your home repairs - we're getting back on track
- Introducing Aptem
- How we're improving our complaints system
- Support for Bolton's street homeless - Hope for Change
- A fresh start - giving support to people leaving hospital
- Our staff talk you through Air Source Heat Pumps
- "Money Advice has been an absolute lifelife"
- Recognise your community heroes - Stars of the Community Awards 2022
- Providing opportunities for young people
Your latest Quarter Turn issue
Your latest Quarter Turn issue:
Each quarter, we send our printed Quarter Turn magazine to 4,800 customers living in our sheltered and extra care schemes, those receiving Careline and living in our general let and over 70s in our general let.