GWSF comment on First Minister’s rent freeze announcement, 6/9/23

Commenting on the FM’s announcement, GWSF Director David Bookbinder said:

‘Housing association rents aren’t scheduled to rise before April 2023, and so the initial freeze has no direct impact, but the prospect of the freeze being extended beyond the end of March is alarming.

‘Housing associations are deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on their tenants, but we’re extremely worried about the precedent set by removing associations’ independence to set their own rents in consultation with tenants.

‘Inflation next April could be around 14% or more. No housing association would be looking to increase rents by anywhere near that amount, but a balance has to be struck between supporting tenants through the current crisis and still being able to invest in the stock and further improve its energy efficiency.

‘Our modelling shows that an average housing association which continues with its existing investment plans, but has to freeze rents in 2023 and 2024, will run out of money within four years. That means drastic reductions in investment will be essential if the rent freeze is extended.

‘It also means that despite our legal duty, consulting with tenants on the next rent increase will be futile.

‘We’ve already started engaging with Ministers to ensure they fully understand the implications of any rent freeze beyond March 2023.’