COUNCIL house rent is due to rise by nearly three per cent in North Ayrshire next year.

The 2.93 per cent increase was approved by politicians at the last meeting of the council for this year.

This will be followed by a further increase of 3.65 per cent for 2020/21.

The council plans to spend about £49 million in the housing budget next financial year year with most of the money coming from rent and service charges.

It pledges to build 1,375 new homes by March 31, 2024.

Speaking at the council meeting, Labour leader Joe Cullinane said he was “absolutely delighted” with the housing revenue account proposal.

He said 523 new council houses are under construction or due to be completed in 2019.

He described the housebuilding programme as “tremendous” and said it would make a difference to communities.

A paper presented at the meeting said the average weekly local authority rent in the area is £70, which is £2 lower than the Scottish average.

Tenants were consulted about the rent increase and were asked if they wanted a 2.93, 3.18 or 3.30 per cent jump. Most of them (58 per cent) opted for the lowest amount.

During a customer satisifaction survey held during the Summer, 92 per cent of tenants said their property rent was good value for money.

Althought it was warned that Universal Credit was pushing residents into arrears.

The document said welfare reform “poses significant risks” to the housing budget.

It said £3 million has been set aside for a contingency to handle the impact of the benefits system.