Council house rent rises have been approved but “inequality” in what people pay compared to others has been highlighted again by a Milford councillor.

Clr. Mike Stoddart, Hakin, said that rent inequality was inherited – but not addressed – with some council tenants paying the target rent set by Welsh Government while others remained on much lower rates.

An increase of 1.5 per cent on all council rents was approved by full Pembrokeshire council on Thursday (March 4) which would mean the “inequalities get larger and larger” said Clr. Stoddart, as fixed increases would be higher for those already on higher rents.

Cabinet member for housing Clr. Michelle Bateman said she did not disagree with Clr. Stoddart’s point but “unfortunately it’s very difficult to do anything about.”

The council moves all void properties to target rent when they are re-let and more people would be at the highest level, reducing the gap, she said, while acknowledging some types of property become empty quicker than others.

Clr. Stoddart also questioned how the rent increases fit within the overall cap on rent income put in place by Welsh Government and was told that the removal of some homes from the total where work to improve energy efficiency was underway had been permitted.

Clr. Bateman added that there were houses no longer being rented and others being refitted which lowered the overall income, adding there was “some flexibility around that cap” which would be monitored.

Increase of up to 50p per week where properties are not at target rent levels were also approved, as well as the introduction of a living rent level brought in for newbuilds and void properties where significant energy efficiency improvement measures are made, and garage rents will increase by 1.5 per cent.