AFFORDABLE homes in South Lakeland are set to become substantially less so, according to housing experts.

The rents for new council house tenants in the Lakes could rise by up to 66 per cent following a redefinition of ‘affordable’ by Government.

South Lakeland District Council said the move would not affect current tenants but could spell misery for the more than 3,000 waiting to move into a council home.

Housing officers said rent for a three-bedroom ‘affordable’ house in Kendal could go up from around £80 a week to £120.

An Ambleside rent could increase from £90 a week to £150 – a rise of two-thirds.

Impact Housing, Two Castles Housing and Eden Housing have all been put under pressure to raise their rents by the Government, which has cut subsidies for social housing schemes.

John Mansergh, perform-ance manager for South Lakes Housing, which is likely to take over the stock of council homes from SLDC, admitted the organisation was facing such an option.

The rent hike threat comes after ministers opted to change their ‘affordable’ formula from a calculation based on the average local income to one based on 80 per cent of the average local rent.

Impact Housing’s Mike Muir stressed his concerns to an audience of more than 100 delegates who met for a ‘localism’ conference at Kendal Town Hall on Friday.

He said: “In South Lakeland prices are going to go through the roof because market prices are very high.

“Politicians don’t understand the consequences of this yet – by making housing associations raise their rents they will be hitting families who have been waiting to get a home in the Lake District for five years and now cannot afford it.”