Report from the Strategic Director for Adult Care, Housing and Public Health.
That the Cabinet note the content of the report and recommends to Council:
1. That dwelling rents are increased by 7% in 2023/24 (Option 1) in line with the latest Government policy on rents for social ... view the full agenda text for item 122
Consideration was given to the report submitted which was seeking approval for the proposed values of the housing rents, non-dwelling rents, District Heating and service charges and the draft Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget for 2023/24.
The report was also considered alongside the HRA Business Plan report for 2023/24.
To seek approval for the proposed values of the housing rents, non-dwelling rents, District Heating and service charges and the draft Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2023/24.
Cabinet Portfolio: Housing
Strategic Directorate: Adult Care, Housing and Public Health
The Chair welcomed the Cabinet Member for Housing to the meeting. The Cabinet Member introduced a report seeking approval for the proposed values of the housing rents, non-dwelling rents, District Heating and service charges and the draft Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2023/24.
Also in attendance were the Strategic Director for Adult Care, Housing and Public Health, the Assistant Director for Housing and Interim Head of Services.
The Cabinet Member outlined that there was a requirement for the Council to produce a plan which would allow the Council to maintain and develop its stock. It was noted that the Government policy had capped social rents at 7% and this was reflected in the proposals for a corresponding increase in dwelling rents and shared ownership rents (Option 1). It was outlined that there was a proposal for a 6% increase to charges for garages, communal facilities, cooking gas and laundry facilities. In respect of district heating, it was noted that the Council had cushioned the affect of energy price rises, however in order for the scheme to break even in the long term, the unit charge per KwH would be increased by 186.43% and weekly prepayment charges increased by a maximum of 150% (dependent on property size). Approval was also sought to retain the policy of rent realignment to formula rent levels for re-let properties.
Options for housing rents and district heating charges were detailed in the report.
The Chair invited questions from the committee and a discussion on the following issues ensued.
· Clarification was sought on how tenants using district heating would be supported. It was outlined that the current cost model was not sustainable which was why it was being raised. It was noted that the existing taper was in place and there was parity across the charges. The Tenancy Support Team would work with tenants to maximise take-up of benefits and vouchers for pre-payment meter energy support. The report contained details of the number of tenant households in receipt of Universal Credit and/or Housing Benefit.
· Details were requested on the process for raising formula rents, noting that it would take approximately 12 years to achieve parity. It was outlined that the Council was following the process and timescales outlined by Government policy.
· It was suggested that clear communication should be issued to outline the reasons behind the increases to the district heating charges and where support was available.
· Assurance was sought that officers would work with tenants, including those not in receipt of benefits. It was noted that affordability tests were conducted prior to tenancies being offered. If surplus payments were accrued on pre-payment meters, this was paid back to the customer at regular intervals
· Information was sought if lower service charges could have been introduced to mitigate the compound impact of charges. It was noted that the recommended position was required to avoid a deficit.
· Clarification was sought if consideration had been given to how the proposals may impact on tenants with long term health conditions or ... view the full minutes text for item 153