INVERCLYDE'S largest social landlord is coming under pressure to freeze rent this year in response to the pandemic.

Councillor Colin Jackson, who represents the poorest ward in the country, has called on River Clyde Homes to abandon any plans for an increase.

He spoke out after tenants raised concerns and he wants RCH to take a lead for others to follow.

Bosses at the housing association have issued proposals looking at hike of up to 2.1 per cent to generate money to make improvements like replacing gas boilers.

But with the local authority also looking at increasing council tax, the local elected member says the combination of both would be a double whammy which would hit people hard in the pocket.

Councillor Jackson said: "Three days before Christmas a card dropped through the doors of all River Clyde Homes tenants asking them to take part in a consultation on how much their rent will rise in 2021.

"Inverclyde’s largest housing association is offering three different options on how much rents are to rise.

"Unfortunately the consultation does not offer a fourth option for a rent freeze, or given the condition of some of the current housing stock, a fifth option for a rent cut.

"I am arguing for a freeze or a cut."

Councillor Jackson has been a critic of River Clyde Homes following problems with the major Broomhill regeneration programme and he has challenged bosses on a number of issues.

He added: "These rent increase comes at a time when, as reported in the Telegraph, councillors are being asked to approve a council tax rise.

"Individually these might not amount to much but collectively they put more unwanted financial pressure on those in our communities already struggling to make ends meet.

"At this moment in time it is charity and goodwill that is keeping many in this community afloat.

"I am urging every housing association, every private landlord and every council decision-maker to pull back and rethink the consequences of their actions.

"Unless absolutely unavoidable we should not be inflicting more poverty or making anyone worse off.

"It is vitally important that we avoid inflicting more hardship.

"Let’s not make things worse - taking money out of people’s pockets will see less money being spent in our shops and on local services."

River Clyde Homes are asking tenants to vote for one of three options - a 1.7 per cent increase to 'stand still', a 1.9 per cent increase which would generate an additional £56k, or a 2.1 per cent hikee which would generate an additional £112k.

A spokesperson said: “River Clyde Homes is consulting on a number of options for this year’s rent increase.

"Mindful of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on many customers, we have tried to minimise the increase and include an option that would maintain current service levels only.

"The proposals are in line with, or less than, many others within the sector.

“Customer feedback is important to us and to maximise the number of responses, we are encouraging customers to respond to the short survey online or to call us to give feedback.

"We have also produced freepost response cards that have been delivered to multi-storey blocks and complexes and our Customer Experience Team is making outbound calls to gauge opinion.”