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Funding boost for East Lothian housing modernisation programme

East Lothian Council has announced that more than £112 million will be invested in its housing modernisation programme over the next five years. The project aims to improve the living conditions for current residents, as well as increase the amount of affordable housing available in the region.

The local authority, which covers an area to the east of Edinburgh, says that the funding will come from a five per cent increase in house rents. This will allow the council to continue to deliver significant investment in its existing stock and build new housing without compromising key day-to-day services like housing management and repairs.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, cabinet member for housing said that the council is working hard to improve its housing stock, particularly in terms of energy efficiency. Projects such as installing thermal wall insulation and draught-proofing the homes are likely to save tenants money in the future.

"This will help make tenants' homes warmer and cheaper to heat, which will also help reduce fuel poverty," he said.

While some residents may not be happy to hear that their rent will be going up, Mr Hampshire noted that the rises were minimal.

"We have still maintained an average rent level well below the national average," he said, adding that the council is under a lot of pressure to maintain its existing properties and increase the number of homes that are available for rent. "The council is working alongside a number of partners, including housing developers, to deliver more affordable housing in East Lothian," he said.

The five per cent rent increase will bring in an additional £960,000 in 2016/17. Prior to announcing the rent increase, the council carried out a full consultation of tenants and 79 per cent said they believed the proposed increase to be fair. A further 93 per cent said they consider the rent they pay to be good value for money.

Currently, the average rent in the council is £54.38 per week. The five per cent increase will bring that up to £57.10 - that's nearly £9 lower than the Scottish average local authority weekly rent of £65.99.