‘Relatively minimal’ increase in government house rent
Rents on Government housing estates are to increase by an average of 60p a week in the first adjustment of public sector rents in 34 years.
This comes after a Bill to amend the Housing Act was unanimously approved in Parliament this week and follows the Chief Minister’s announcement in his 2016 Budget address that rents would increase by three per cent.
The “relatively minimal” increase will amount to 39p for a two-bedroom property in Alameda Estate or 46p a week for a two-bedroom property at Mid-Harbour Estate, Housing Minister Samantha Sacramento said as she presented the Bill to Parliament.
Public sector rents have not been adjusted since 1983, not even to reflect inflation, Ms Sacramento said as she reiterated that the “very modest adjustment” should continue on an annual basis.
“Even if this measure were applied annually over the next three decades, rents at that point will nevertheless remain considerably below what it would have been if 1983 rents had increased consistently in line with inflation over the 34-year period between 1983 and 2017,” she said.
The move follows calls from the Ombudsman to review housing rents.
A step, Ms Sacramento said, that was “widely accepted and indeed welcomed perhaps more on a matter of principle than because of the value of the income that rent increases will generate.”
In presenting the Bill to Parliament she also stated: “This House is very well aware of the Government’s commitment to public sector housing.”
“We are justly proud of our unprecedented investment in public sector housing and of the significant improvements of facilities to tenants.”
“We remain committed to protecting and enhancing our public housing stock,” she added.
At last year’s budget address Chief Minister Fabian Picardo noted that the Government would continue to invest in the upgrading of Gibraltar’s public housing stock.
And in her most recent budget intervention Ms Sacramento outlined the continued plans of refurbishment works in housing estates this year and beyond.