Report of the Group Director of Operations.
The Cabinet Member with the Health and Housing Portfolio introduced the report of the Group Director of Operations (previously circulated) requesting that consideration be given to the proposals for the revenue budget, capital programme, rent levels and service charges for the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for the financial year 2022/23, in the context of the HRA Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) to 2025/26 and the 30-year Business Plan.
The submitted report stated that the Council was the largest provider of social housing in the Borough, providing 5,275 homes to local residents; the homes were of a high standard of accommodation that met the Decent Homes Standard; as a result of the high quality of the homes and the services provided they were in high demand; to meet that demand the Council had an ambitious programme to build new homes in Darlington, funded through capital receipts from the right to buy sales, grant funding and borrowing of £15M; the proposed revenue budget expenditure of £25,448M included £4,282M to fund responsive repairs and maintenance and £17.618M to the capital programme; and the proposed capital programme of £32.98M included funding for work to current properties and £25.6M to deliver the new build Council housing programme.
It was reported that the key decision to be made regarding the HRA each year was the balance between setting rent and service charge levels that were affordable to the Council’s tenants whilst ensuring there was sufficient resources to invest in housing stock, tackle climate change and maintain services; Local Authorities had the discretion to increase rents by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus one per cent, which meant that Members could decide to increase rents by up to 4.1 per cent; 70 per cent of tenants would have their rent and services charges covered by benefit payments; and that a number of options had been considered, taking into account the current economic pressures facing tenants and delivering ambitious capital and energy efficient programmes.
Particular references were made at the meeting to the proposal to increase the average weekly rent increase by two per cent and whether there was a reduction in the cleaning of communal areas. The Cabinet Member with the Health and Housing Portfolio responded thereon.
RESOLVED - That the following recommendations be agreed for wider consultation, namely that :-
(a) an average weekly rent increase of two per cent for 2022/23 be implemented giving an average social rent of £75.01 and affordable rent of £92.06;
(b) garage rents and service charges be increased, as shown in Table 1 of the submitted report;
(c) the revenue budget, as attached at Appendix 1 of the submitted report, be approved;
(d) the Housing Business Plan, at attached at Appendix 2 of the submitted report, be agreed;
(e) the capital programme, as attached at Appendix 3 of the submitted report, be agreed; and
(f) the Group Director of Operations be given delegated powers to proceed with new build schemes for affordable rent using the funding, as identified at paragraph 16 of the submitted report.
REASON - To enable the Council to deliver an appropriate level of service to tenants to meet housing need and to support the economic growth of the Borough through housing development.