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Agenda item

Housing Revenue Account – Business Plan 2019/20


Cabinet Portfolio:-                Housing

Strategic Directorate:-          Adult Care, Housing and Public Health


Consideration was given to a report which was due to be submitted ato the Cabinet meeting on 21 January 2019 which provided a detailed technical overview of the current position and the reason for proposed changes to the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan for 2019/20.


It was reported that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) recorded all expenditure and income relating to the provision of council housing and related services. The Council was required to produce a HRA Business Plan setting out its investment priorities over a 30 year period. Following the introduction in 2012 of HRA self-financing, whereby the Council was awarded control over its HRA in return for taking on a proportion of national housing debt, Rotherham’s HRA was in a strong position with a healthy level of reserves. A number of policies were introduced by central government that resulted in a reduction to HRA resources, namely:


·         1% per annum reduction in Council rents over four years. 2019-20 in the final year of the policy

·         Reinvigoration of the Right to Buy (RTB) (reduction of qualifying period to three years): Reducing stock

·         Welfare reform - bedroom tax, universal credit and benefits cap: Impacting on tenants’ ability to pay their rent, and increasing the resources required by the Council to collect rent from tenants in receipt of benefits.


Members noted that over the past year, there has been a shift in government policy towards increasing the availability of housing across all tenure types. This had reduced pressures on the business plan, the most significant policy announcement being the return of the previous rent formula from 2020-21 onwards, namely set at Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 1% for five years. The subsequent review of the HRA Business Plan for 2019-20 had focused on achieving the following:


·         Contributing to the borough’s housing growth target of 900 homes per annum through building and/ or purchasing new properties

·         Maintaining and continuing to improve 20,500 Council homes

·         Contributing to the development of low cost home ownership products that were needed locally and would play a critical role in Rotherham’s overall economic growth

·         Continued investment to support the General Fund budget position


Referring to the recent scrutiny review on modern methods of construction and specifically the opportunities presented by modular housing, Members queried why further investment was not planned from the Housing Revenue Account when it could be delivered without further borrowing. In response, the Cabinet Member for Housing explained that £51m had already been agreed, further monies were in the pipeline but had not yet received Cabinet approval.


Members referred to the risks highlighted in respect of repairs and maintenance, where over a five year period it was planned to invest around £99mm with an efficiency saving of £11m over that time. Assurances were sought as to whether a review of how repairs and maintenance was working would be undertaken and what amount of exposure there was to interest rate rises. In response, it was explained that efficiency savings for repairs and maintenance would contributing to better quality, which would ensure that the authority would not be spending as much as it would have been. Furthermore, the repairs and maintenance contract was out to tender and would contribute to a reduction in spend, realising efficiencies through the new contract. Members noted that 250 properties fall out of decency each year and needed to be attended to.


As with the previous item, the Chair referred to the absence of an equality impact assessment and indicated that this would be expected in future.




1.    That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.



Supporting documents: