SOME council tenants will face “severe hardship” when their rents go up by more than inflation, it has been claimed.

But Bournemouth council has said its rises are far lower than those in the private sector, where rents have increased by 35 per cent in the past five years.

A policy introduced by the previous Labour government aims to bring council rents closer to social housing rents in the private sector.

A target rent has been worked out for each home and the council is moving towards that, with rises of up to £10 a week.

The average rise for Bournemouth council tenants this year will be 5.3 per cent.

Labour councillor Beryl Baxter asked the council to recognise “the severe hardship that this increase will bring upon many of our tenants”.

The rent increase on a one-bedroom flat in Turbary Park would be £4.79 a week – a 7.2 per cent increase, well above inflation, she said.

“If we look at a three-bedroom house which is to cost £10 per week more, that’s an increase of 10.4 per cent,” she told the full council.

Cllr Baxter said there was due to be a £1.69million surplus in the council’s housing revenue account.

“Whilst this is earmarked for building new properties, this could be reduced to help vulnerable people,” she added.

The council’s Conservative leader, Cllr John Beesley, said some rents would have increased by as much as £17 per week if the council had not proposed a £10 cap.

He said the changes affected 133 tenants out of 5,107 and 67 of them were on housing benefit. More would be able to claim housing benefit when their rent rose.

The council had a hardship fund but the take-up had amounted to £25,000 of an available total of £250,000.

He added: “In the private sector where there are 22,000 household tenancies, rents have escalated by 35 per cent over the past five years and if there is real hardship it is most likely to be amongst those tenants.”

A two-bedroom home cost £83.89 a week under the council and an average of £193.84 in the private sector, he said.