Opposition councillors have criticised Aberdeen council’s ruling coalition for failing to stick to a housing plan – claiming it has resulted in a £154 million black hole.
It has been revealed that a decision to increase council house rents by 2.6% for 2018-19 – as opposed to a recommended 4.6% – has resulted in a shortfall to the council’s 30-year housing plan of £47m.
This followed a decision taken last year by the previous ruling administration to freeze rents for 2017-18 which resulted in a shortfall of £107m over the 30-years of the plan.
Speaking during a meeting of the city growth and resources committee, SNP member Alex Nicoll said the financial strategy has to be “set and abided by”.
He added: “We cannot idly change it year on year at huge costs to our tenants.
“These people are hard-working people and deserve to have some clarity on where the council is going.”
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But Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing said the rents had to be set according to local conditions at the time.
She added: “We can’t get away from the fact people in this city had gone through a downturn in the economy.”
She was echoed by her fellow co-leader Douglas Lumsden who said the city has seen private rents “tumble” in the wake of the downturn. He added: “It wouldn’t be too long before social housing was more expensive than private.”
Aberdeen City Council has developed a 30-year housing plan which recommends council house rents are maintained at baseline inflation plus 1% in order for the plan to be affordable.
But in March, the ruling administration opted to increase weekly rents by 2.6% for 2018-19 instead of at 4.6%.
Councillors on the committee voted to approve the housing revenue account five votes to four.