Report of the Group Director of Operations
The Group Director of Operations submitted a report (previously circulated) requesting that consideration be given to proposals for the revenue budget, capital programme, rent levels and service charges for the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for the financial year 2023/24, in the context of the HRA Medium Term Financial Plan to 2026/27, and the 30 year Investment Plan, following consultation with Council tenants.
The submitted report stated that the Council was the largest provider of social housing in the borough, providing 5,291 homes to local residents, and outlined the ambitious programme to build new Council houses in Darlington. It was reported that the new build Council housing programme was funded through capital receipts from right to buy sales, grant funding from Homes England and through estimated borrowing of £11.7m.
The submitted report set out the key decisions for the HRA for 2023-24, which included proposed revenue expenditure of £26.557m, and a proposed capital programme of £24.585m.
It was stated that Councils had the discretion to increase rents each year by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1%, which means for 2023-24 Members had the option to increase rents by up to 11.1%, however the Government had implemented a cap of 7%. Consideration was given to a 5% increase, a 3% increase, and a 2% increase, and taking into account the current economic pressures facing tenants and balancing this with the need to deliver the Council’s ambitious capital and energy efficiency programmes, it was determined that an increase of 5% was to be recommended, or an average of £3.69 each week. It was also recommended to increase service charges by an appropriate inflationary amount.
RESOLVED - (a) That an average weekly rent increase of 5% for 2023-24 be implemented giving an average social rent of £78.70 and affordable rent of £88.35.
(b) That garage rents and service charges are increased, as shown in Table 3 of the submitted report.
(c) That the revenue budget, at Appendix 1 of the submitted report, be approved.
(d) That the Housing Business Plan at Appendix 2 of the submitted report, be agreed.
(e) That the Capital programme at Appendix 3 of the submitted report, be approved.
REASON - To enable the Council to deliver an appropriate level of services to tenants to meet housing need and to support the economic growth of the Borough through housing development.