Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To propose a Housing Revenue Account for
Submitted – A report (previously circulated) of the Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services which had been considered by Cabinet at its meeting on 7 January 2020, to propose the revenue budget, rent levels and service charges for the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for the financial year 2020/21 in the context of the HRA Medium Term Financial Plan to 2023/24 and the 30-year Business Plan.
It was reported that for the first time since 2016/17 the Council had been given the discretion to inflate rents by CPI plus one per cent which equated to an average weekly rent increase of 2.7% for 2020/21, with average social rent of £71.30 and affordable rent of £82.55. Members were advised that 68% of tenants would have their rent and most services charges covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
The Assistant Director Housing and Building Services reported that the Government had also lifted the borrowing cap on the HRA, enabling the Council to borrow an extra £9million to fund the housing capital programme; and that this could be supplemented with Homes England grant with the overall plan being to provide 100 affordable homes per annum for the next ten years. It was also reported that over 220 households had already benefitted from the Council’s current new build programme which had taken place at various locations around town and demand for these houses continued to be exceptionally high.
Details were provided on the priorities identified within the Housing Business Plan and particular reference was made to the investment in housing stock, with Northgate ward identified as a key area for investment.
A discussion ensued in respect of the feasibility of purchasing properties which had been subjected to recent drug raids in the town. It was reported that the Council would work with landlords to raise the standards of properties in the borough; had considered work undertaken to improve housing standards in other areas in the North East; and Members noted that two properties on Skinnergate had been purchased to be developed into a mixture of houses and apartments, helping to improve the general amenity of the Skinnergate area whilst increasing residential occupation.
RESOLVED – That this Scrutiny Committee supports the average weekly rent increase of 2.7 per cent for 2020/21, increases to the garage rents and services charges, the budget and Housing Business Plan, as appended to the submitted report.
Report author: Pauline Mitchell
Publication date: 30/01/2020
Date of decision: 10/01/2020
Decided at meeting: 10/01/2020 - Health and Housing Scrutiny Committee