Croydon Council has been warned that tenants could be pushed into debt as they are hit with increases to their council tax bill and rents.

In April, rents and services charges for council homes are set to increase by seven per cent.

It will come at the same time that residents will see a 15 per cent rise in their council tax bills.

Croydon Council were given special permission by the government to make the increase which, if approved, will be the largest in England.

The proposals will go to cabinet on February 22 and a full decision is due to be made at full council in March.

At a meeting this week, Croydon Council tenants raised their concerns that the rises will hit locals hard.

Rent for a two bedroom flat would increase by £8 a week from £114 to £122.

Stephen Pollard, a resident of Heathfield Gardens, told a meeting of the Tenant and Leaseholder Panel: “With the seven per cent plus the 15 per cent council tax increase, for some people this is going to cause real hardship.”

Another local, Jill Arboine, said that those not receiving other benefits would need “immediate” support or face going into debt.

She said: “A lot of help is going to be needed for those who aren’t on benefits. 

"With the council tax, the rent, gas and electric, if I was that person I would want help immediately because where am I going to get the money from to pay everything? A lot of people will get into debt.”

Meanwhile, Mary Larbie, the council’s director of tenancy services, said more than 4,000 of council tenants don’t get housing benefit or universal credit. She said all of these residents will receive letters to offer support with accessing benefits they may be eligible for.

She added: “We don’t think this will be a short term project because what will happen is people will initially think they can cope then over time things will change.

"The project will be set up to last for six or seven months.”

Responding to the concerns, the council’s director of housing, Susmita Sen, said civic chiefs had “no choice” but to put council tax up for residents in the face of a financial crisis.

She said: “This is a really difficult situation for all of our residents and we are clearly an outlier.

"The financial troubles of the council are unprecedented, that is why were are in the position that council tax is to be raised by this level.

“I want to give you absolute assurance we understand how difficult this will be, that is why were are developing a hardship fund for tenants and a second hardship fund for council tax support will be developed.

“This is going to be a really difficult period for our borough but regrettably we have no choice.”

The rent increase was approved by the council’s cabinet on January 25 and has been recommended for approval by full council on March 1.

Croydon Council’s Tenant and Leaseholder Panel met on Tuesday evening (February 7) at Croydon Town Hall.