A PROPOSED rise in service charges to council tenants is needed to cover costs, a councillor has said.

Bournemouth council is planning to increase charges for such services as laundry and window cleaning by three per cent as part of its Housing Revenue Account budget, a cabinet meeting heard on Wednesday.

Cllr Jane Kelly said members understood the rise would have a "direct impact" on residents, but it was not a case of the council arbitrarily changing the charges to "what we want".

"There are rules pertaining to this," she said.

"Charges can only be levied to cover costs incurred by the landlord. It has to be the actual amounts we spend on these properties."

Bournemouth council is the only local authority in Dorset which directly controls its housing stock, with 5,123 tenanted properties and 514 leasehold properties and a rental income of £22.1 million.

Following Government policy to reduce council rents over a four year period, the borough will again reduce rents by one per cent from this April.

It is also proposing to raise garage rents by three per cent. Most council garages are let to private clients rather than its own tenants.

The borough will spend some £7m on planned maintenance next year.

Cabinet member for housing Robert Lawton said: "We have budgeted £600k in fire protection and £750k on disability adaptations throughout our council housing stock. The council works hard to ensure the stock continues to be well managed and maintained."

He said additional costs were expected to follow the Government's inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire last year, however they were not expected to be extensive as the council doesn't own any tower blocks.

"We have built over 200 new council homes since 2009, with new developments on the way," said Cllr Lawton.

Bournemouth council was criticised last year for its allegedly slow pace in building or acquiring new council homes, with more than 3,500 applicants on its housing waiting list.

At the meeting, council leader John Beesley said the borough was lobbying the Government to introduce changes to its rules on council borrowing, allowing the council to borrow more cash at low interest rates and buy new properties.

There is currently a cap on borrowing, despite the Government's target to build 300,000 new homes each year.

"I propose further representations are made to Government about how we would like to help them to deliver their target," said Cllr Beesley.

A final decision on the housing budget will be made at full council on Wednesday, February 21.