Report of the Assistant Director – Housing and Revenues
The Assistant Director Housing and Revenues submitted a report (previously circulated) requesting that Members give consideration to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA)– MTFP for 2023-24 to 2026-27 (also previously circulated).
The Assistant Director Housing and Revenue provided an update on the key decisions within the HRA for 2023-24 which included a proposed revenue expenditure of £26.557M, a proposed Capital Programme of £24.585M and a proposed weekly rent increase of 5 per cent.
It was reported that Councils had the discretion to inflate rents by CPI plus 1 per cent, which would mean a rent increase of 11.1 per cent for 2023-24. Members were advised that a decision was made to cap social housing rent increases at 7 per cent, and taking into account the current economic pressures faced by tenants and balancing this with increased costs of maintaining and improving Council housing and the need to deliver the Councils ambitious capital and energy efficiency programmes, an increase of 5 per cent was recommended which equated to an average £3.69 increase in weekly rents. Members were also informed that Cabinet recommended that service charges be increased by an appropriate inflationary amount.
Reference was made to the consultation exercise undertaken with the Tenants Panel; the Panel fully supported the proposed increase on the annual rent charge, were in support of the spending priorities and energy efficiency work to help reduce tenant’s energy bills.
Discussion ensued regarding the service charges with particular concern raised in relation to the increases. The Assistant Director Housing and Revenues informed Members that over 70 per cent of Council tenants had their rent and most service charges covered by Universal Credit or Housing Benefit payments, and that a mid-year review of the service charges for gas and electricity would be undertaken.
RESOLVED – (a) That this Scrutiny Committee supports the average weekly rent increase of 5 per cent for 2023/24, increases to the garage rents and services charges, the budget, Housing Business Plan and capital programme, as appended to the submitted report.
(b) That Members concerns regarding the increases in service charges and the impact on residents and concerns in relation to the Council’s Housing Revenue Account subsequent to 2023-24 be noted.