CHERWELL District Council's proposal to increase the rent for its affordable and shared ownership homes has been scrapped.

It comes after residents expressed their opposition to the idea in a public consultation that opened in December.

The proposal was put forward as one of the 53 ways the council could save money for its 2021/22 budget, which would altogether save the council £4.3m.

But in the council's executive committee meeting on Monday, cabinet member for finance councillor Anthony Illott said the rent would not be increased.

He said: "We have listened to what they've (residents) said and taken action where we can. We have dropped the one per cent increase for affordable homes owned by the council. This is really to recognise how tough it's been for many people out there so we hope this may help a little bit."

Liberal Democrat district councillor Conrad Copeland previously criticised the council for including the rent increase for these homes, questioning whether it was 'looking to seek revenue from the poorest' in the district.

He is glad the council has changed its position.

He said: "I am very glad that the council leadership has decided to back away from the plan to raise the rents of people who can least afford it. I have advocated throughout this process that shifting the burden of Covid on to the most vulnerable in our society is a wrong-headed and mean-spirited approach.

"I have concerns that over the next few years, the most vulnerable of our residents will be looked to again to fill the financial hole that Cherwell has. What is required is a rethink of how we finance local councils generally and Cherwell’s financial plan in particular."

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By raising the rent, Cherwell's revenue would have increased by £95,000.

However, the consultation feedback showed that 40 per cent opposed, 39 per cent supported and 20 per cent were neutral.

Comments said that increasing rent for people, who may already be on low incomes and more negatively impacted by the effects of Covid-19, could create long-term damaging implications, driving up debt and homelessness, causing families to fall further into crisis and potentially increasing people’s reliance on benefits to survive.

In total, the council received 383 completed online survey responses to the consultation and five email responses - one from a parish council, one from a business and three from


Of all the savings proposals put forward, reviewing parking charges in car parks received the most opposition with 56 per cent of people against.

Twenty-one people explained their objections in the comments section and the main concerns were the perceived reducing footfall in towns at a time when they are in decline; and increased parking charges, further discouraging people from entering the town centre.

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A £5 council tax increase for the average Band D property was agreed by the executive committee and three in five respondents support the proposal, while a third disagree.

The full council will now consider the budget at a meeting on February 22.

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