Freezing residents caught up in cladding crisis in Salford feel 'invisible' after rent hike

Report by Granada Reports correspondent Tim Scott, ITV News

Residents living in "freezing" flats after flammable cladding was removed from their blocks say they feel "invisible" after they received confirmation that their rent is being increased.The nine apartment blocks in Pendleton, Salford, have been plagued with problems for years.All towers - Beech Court, Holm Court, Hornbeam Court, Malus Court, Plane Court, Salix Court, Spruce Court, Thorn Court, and Whitebeam Court - are owned by Salford City Council and managed by Pendleton Together.By the end of 2020, the buildings were finally free of cladding but, while work to replace the insulating material continued, temperatures at the apartments plummeted.

Edna says her bills have soared after the cladding was removed and temperatures plummeted. Credit: ITV News

Pendleton Together has offered tenants £30 a month to help with heating bills - but some have said their energy costs have been up to ten times higher.Now tenants say they feel "invisible" after being hit by a 4.1% rise in rent.

Edna Crowson, who lives in one of the buildings, says she is already struggling to pay her heating bills.

She says she is paying around £50 a month more than she should for heating and says the boilers in the flats are not fit for purpose.

"It's going to be a real struggle", Edna said. "They're treating us like we're nothing. It's almost as if you're invisible."

Community worker Fatou Ginadu, who is also a resident in one of the buildings, shelled out £600 on heating in less than three months.

She said: "It's really frustrating, especially when you're a single mum and you're trying to make ends meet - it's just not right.

"You can't keep your house warm and feed your kids."

Pendleton Together, who manage the flats on behalf of Salford Council, said: "The council are responsible for setting the rent in line with their procedures so we're not able to comment on the rent.

"If any of our residents are concerned about the rent increase or have financial concerns, they should contact is immediately."

The company also said that the pandemic and issues over funding and regulation have slowed the replacement of the cladding.

The cladding on this building in Salford was removed in 2020. Credit: ITV News

Salford Council say they are creating a hardship fund for tenants affected by the rent increase, but they are still 'working through details' of the fund and how it will work.

Salford Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey said: "The government needs to fund our social housing sector properly.

"In a cost of living crisis they've got a moral duty to make sure no rent rises are past on to tenants at this time."