MORE than 12,000 council tenants will benefit from a multi-million pound plan to modernise their homes.

The work is the latest phase of Renfrewshire Council's five-year, £138million programme to upgrade its housing stock to meet the nationally-set Scottish Quality Housing Standard.

Over the next year it will carry out 1700 combinations of kitchen, bathroom and rewiring replacements and 500 central heating upgrades.

But it is also pressing ahead with a 4.5% rent increase which will mean an average weekly rent increase of £2.95 per week.

Housing convener Tommy Williams said: "Providing our tenants with modern, warm and affordable houses with decent facilities is a priority for this council.

"We have put in place additional measures to support our tenants through the inevitable upheaval of modernisation or repair work.

"Additional resources have been invested in customer care and quality management of contractors. There is now a 100% quality inspection of the works.

"It's also encouraging that the council is investing an additional £2m in new council homes, including 24 in Seedhill, Paisley."

As the UK Government prepares to bring in wide-ranging welfare and benefit changes, Renfrewshire Council says its housing budget is "prioritising help to tenants likely to face financial hardship".

Of the council's £11.6m housing revenue account reserves, £5m will be used "to fight the impact of benefit changes, support people in their tenancies, and assist unemployed tenants into work".

Councillor Williams added: "These welfare changes are unprecedented in their scope and their likely impact on thousands of our tenants.

"We are committed to doing all we can to support tenants through these difficult times."

About 12,300 council tenants are set to benefit from the programme of modernisation on their homes, and a start has been made on 24 new-build homes.

In total the council's £51m housing revenue budget and £37.3m housing capital programme for this year feature £35m of improvements to tenants' homes.