Pursuant to minute C225/Dec/22, 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 2023/24, in the context of the HRA Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) to 2026/27 and the 30-year Business Plan.
The submitted report stated that the Council was the largest provider of social housing in the Borough, providing 5,291 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; and 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 £11.7M. The proposed revenue budget expenditure of £26.557M included £5.539M to fund responsive repairs and maintenance and £12.609M contribution to the capital programme. The proposed capital programme of £24.585M included funding for work to current properties and £15.673M 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; CPI for September 2022 was 10.1 per cent which meant that Members could decide to increase rents by up to 11.1 per cent; a decision was made by the Government to cap social housing rent increases at seven per cent; 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.
RESOLVED - That it be recommended to the special meeting of Council scheduled to be held on Thursday 16 February 2023 that :-
(a) an average weekly rent increase of five per cent for 2023/24 be implemented giving an average social rent of £78.70 and affordable rent of £88.35;
(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, as attached at Appendix 2 of the submitted report, be agreed; and
(e) the capital programme, as attached at Appendix 3 of the submitted report, be agreed, and the funding be released, should the programme be subsequently approved by Council.
REASON – (a) 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.
(b) To adhere to financial procedure rules on the release of Capital funding.