SERVICE charges at sheltered accommodation in Malpas have almost trebled, according to residents left stunned by the rise.

Craddock Court, in Malpas, operated by Sanctuary Housing, has seen its weekly gas charges rise from £11.04 (£574.08 pa) to £32.57 (£1,693.64), with a letter arriving to inform residents of the new costs.

The gas is a communal bill split over 35 units and has risen this month as its owner starts a new energy supplier contract.


Ian Wright, a resident at the home, said he had expected a rise last year but says his own research has convinced him they are being charged far too much.

He said: “I wasn’t surprised when the letter came to be honest, but when I looked on the British Gas website they said the average for a one-bedroom flat is £600, which is a third of this.

“I got onto the government website to check its policy and that says that rents should never be put up more than the CPI which 6.77 per cent plus one per cent.

“That only replies to basic rate but there’s a clause to say that agencies/landlords should do their ‘best endeavour’ to keep service charges within inflation.

“That’s in black and white.

“I’m only speaking for myself but I don’t think Sanctuary is committed to keeping rents down and the only thing stopping them is government policy.

“When I saw that, I was shocked because I’ve only got my pension.

“But there are people under pension age living here who are ill – that’s why they’re here because it’s that type of place and they want peace and quiet.”

Ian added that the rises have left residents facing an inevitable but horrible outcome.

He added: “Supposed you’re on PIP or Universal Credit and you’re only getting £100 a week – the amount of services charges not covered by housing benefits is £40 per week.

“That’s £40 a week already out of £100 – that leaves them with a choice of ‘eating or heating’ – it’s never been clearer than that.

“I’m campaigning for my fellow residents because I’m concerned for them.

“I’m calling on them to do the decent thing and reverse the charges.”

A spokesman for Sanctuary said that costs are not just for services such as gas but for other areas too.

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They said: “For several years our customers have been protected from the significant price increases experienced by most homes nationally because we have been able to purchase energy in advance.

"Unfortunately, many of our long-term energy deals have ended this year leading to an unavoidable increase in our service charges.

“We would encourage any customers with financial concerns to contact us directly so we can offer support.”