This April, similar to the last five years, Southway rents will increase. We and all other housing associations set rents using Government guidance, which usually sees them increase by slightly more than the rate of inflation.
You will receive a personalised letter with your new rent figure from 20th February. In your letter and on this page, we've explained how the rent increase works, how to pay and the help available to you.
Why are rents increasing?
We and all other housing associations set rents using Government guidance, which usually sees them increase by slightly more than the rate of inflation. This year, Southway rents go up by 7.7%.
We always try to keep our rents as affordable as possible for our tenants, and we know that this increase comes at a time when we are all facing cost-of-living pressures. But, as a not-for-profit housing provider, we have to balance our rents with costs which have risen by a lot over the last couple of years.
Over the last two years, inflation and Southway’s costs have increased by significantly more than the last two years’ rent increases combined. Putting a lower rent increase in place would mean that we would lose a significant amount of our income, which would affect our ability to provide essential services to our tenants and communities, as well as repair and maintain homes. You can find more information on our cost pressures and what rent pays for below.
How much are rents increasing by and how is this calculated?
The Government’s rent policy allows for a ‘cost of living’ increase, which is set using inflation from the Consumer Price Index (CPI), plus an additional 1%.
CPI is a figure used to measure inflation. The previous September’s CPI is always used to calculate rent increases. In September 2023, CPI was 6.6%. This means that, in April, Southway rents will increase by 7.7%.
What does rent pay for?
As a not-for-profit landlord, all of the rent we receive goes back into our services, so we can invest in people, homes and neighbourhoods.
Here are a few examples of the ways that you will see money being invested this year:
This year, we’ll be spending more on major and minor repair and maintenance work, with an increased focus on damp and mould, and additional work that will help us meet building safety and energy efficiency rating requirements by 2030.
During 2024/25, we’ll spend £11 million on repairing and maintaining homes, and £5 million on improving them. This includes:
- Renewing heating systems with energy-efficient alternatives and improving home insulation
- Investing in measures that increase the energy performance of homes, saving you money on your energy bills, benefiting the environment, and helping to manage and reduce damp and mould
- Continuing the review of our Repairs Service to maintain and improve the service during a time when the cost of operatives and materials are increasing.
Housing Management, Community Safety & the Environment
Last year, we re-organised our Housing teams to make the way we support you with tenancy and housing matters better and faster, which you’ve told us are top priorities. We’ve invested in these teams, increasing capacity to deliver a better service and meet new consumer standards that are being introduced in April this year.
Community & Support Services
We invest over £1 million each year in our neighbourhoods to help reduce the impacts of poverty. We offer free and confidential debt and welfare benefits advice and financial inclusion advice including things like helping people open bank accounts and help with budgeting. We also invest in:
- Projects that address food poverty and fuel poverty
- Getting our tenants and their families into work
- Investing in community hubs and initiatives so we are stronger together.
Whether you’re struggling, need to earn, claim or just want to make the most of your money, if we know, we can help. Reach out to our Advice Team using the contact information at the bottom of this page to access the support and services above.
We are over halfway through plans to improve services that we know from your Inspired by Our Communities feedback are very important to our tenants. Without a rent increase, we would have to scale back, slow down or even stop this work.
We always welcome your views and want you to be involved in decisions on how we can best spend our income. If you would like to give some feedback, please contact our Customer Involvement Team here. We take your views very seriously and use them to continuously shape our services and our spending. You can see all the ways you can be involved in how Southway is run at southwayhousing.co.uk/about-us/get-involved.
What if I can’t afford the increase?
From April, many types of benefits will increase to help you pay your new rent. Older people will receive the ‘triple lock’, with pensions increasing by 8.5%. For everyone who receives full Housing Benefit, this will continue to cover your rent entirely. If you receive Universal Credit you will also see a 7.7% increase in your housing costs allowance, as long as you notify the Department of Work and Pensions of the increase (this is quick and easy to do - see the 'How do I pay the new rent if...' section below to find out how).
However, we understand that not everyone will receive benefits. With that in mind, we want to remind you about the support you have available to you as a Southway tenant. Paying your rent is a priority and a responsibility, but if you’re struggling to pay, please get in touch. If you tell us, we can help. We will always support you to maintain your tenancy and avoid falling into rent arrears.
These teams and staff can help you:
- Our Advice Team can help you to maximise your income, make the most of your money and claim all the benefits you are entitled to. They can also help with employment, training and budgeting skills, and help you access any available support, including food banks, or help from other agencies.
- Your Income Officer can look at your rent account with you and talk things through, providing you with advice and referring you to other support that may help you pay your rent. They can work with you to reach an agreement about affordable payments.
To access this support, you can:
- Contact us through the website
- Text us on 07554 400781 – no more than 160 characters, including the first line of your address and your postcode.
- Contact the Customer Hub on 0161 448 4200 (textphone 0161 448 4349 for the hearing impaired)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is more information and advice on our Cost-of-Living Support Hub here.
How do I pay the new rent if...
I pay by Direct Debit and / or receive Housing Benefit
You don’t need to do anything - your payments will be automatically adjusted to pay the new rent.
I pay by standing order
You need to contact your bank and ask them to increase your payment. Southway's standing order details are here.
I receive Universal Credit
You will need to pay the new rent and report your rent increase to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through your online Universal Credit account on 3rd April or as soon as possible after – no later than the end of your monthly assessment period.
If your Universal Credit is paid directly to Southway, you still need to report the increase to the DWP.
If you don’t report the change, the DWP will not increase the housing cost element of your UC.
There are 53 Mondays in this coming year. This means that you may end the year with one week’s rent arrears. Find out what this means under 'How is rent affected by the leap year?' below.
I pay online, by phone or text, by post, or at a Pay Point
You need to increase what you pay to take into account the new amount stated in your rent letter.
- I pay by Direct Debit and / or receive Housing Benefit
I pay Universal Credit – what do I need to do?
You need to report your rent increase to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through your online Universal Credit journal in your online account on 1st April or as soon as possible afterwards - no later than the end of your Monthly Assessment Period (MAP). They will then increase the housing cost element of your UC. Follow these steps:
- Sign in to your Universal Credit account at universal-credit.service.gov.uk/sign-in
- Click on ‘To-do list’, then click on ‘Housing’
- When it asks, ‘Did your housing costs change on 1st April 2024?’, select ‘Yes’
- When it asks, ‘Are you still charged weekly for your rent’, select ‘Yes’. Add your new rent charge.
- When it asks, ‘Are you still charged weekly for your service charges?’, select ‘Yes’. Add your new eligible service charges (if you have them).
Our Advice Team is here to help you with your claim for Universal Credit and other benefits. Our Income Officers will look at your personal circumstances and find the best solution for what to claim. Contact us for support.
What is the timescale for the rent increase?
The new rent and service charges (if you pay them) will be in place from 1st April 2024.
If you pay your rent and service charge weekly or fortnightly and are not in arrears, you’ll receive two rent-free weeks per year. In previous years, your rent-free weeks have been in April and December. Following consultation with all Southway tenants in January 2021, we are moving the free weeks so they are both in December because we know that costs can be higher at this time. This year, if you are not in arrears, you’ll have a two-week payment break from the week starting Monday 16th December 2024.
If you pay by direct debit, allpay will write to you nearer the time about your payments. If you pay monthly, your payments will be split equally across the 12 months, so you don’t have rent-free weeks. This is also the case if you live in Tameside or Cheshire East.
How is rent affected by the leap year?
This financial year, which starts 1st April 2024, has 53 Mondays in it rather than 52, which happens every few years and means one extra week’s rent is charged compared to other years.
If you pay monthly, you don’t need to do anything. We will multiply your weekly rent to account for the number of rent weeks, and divide it by 12. If you pay four-weekly, we will multiply your weekly rent to account for the number of rent weeks and divide it by 13.
If you pay weekly, fortnightly, or four-weekly, you will need to take into account one more week’s rent charge than in other years.
If you are on Universal Credit, your housing costs element will be calculated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in a way that will leave you with one week’s arrears by the end of the year. You can cover this extra week by paying slightly more over the course of the year. If you would like any help or advice about this, please contact the Income Team who will be happy to help.
How does this affect Service Charges?
Some tenants pay charges for extra services, particularly in blocks of flats, estates, or sheltered housing schemes. If you do pay a service charge, your letter will let you know your service charges for 2024 and whether there is an increase.
Service charges can increase based on inflation (for fixed service charges), or changes in contracts or service need. Your service charge will be increasing on 1st April 2024. Previously, we reviewed service charges every November, but we didn’t in November 2023.
What is an eligible service charge?
Eligible service charges are for the communal services you receive, like cleaning, lifts and grounds maintenance. They are ‘eligible’ charges because they can be included in a claim for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs.
What is an ineligible service charge?
Ineligible service charges, sometimes known as Personal charges, include things like your individual water, heating, gas or electricity charges, which are provided to you personally and paid for by you. The services will vary depending on where you live and how much energy you use.
They are ‘ineligible’ because they cannot be included in a claim for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs
- What is an eligible service charge?