To consider a recommendation from Cabinet in respect of the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2020-21.
Further to Minute No. 88 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 23rd December, 2019, consideration was given to the report in respect of the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2020-21.
The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) recorded all expenditure and income relating to the provision of Council housing and related services, and the Council was required to produce a HRA Business Plan setting out its investment priorities over a thirty year period.
Following the introduction in 2012 of HRA self-financing, the Council was awarded control over its HRA in return for taking on a proportion of national housing debt.
Since the last update there have been no significant Government policy changes that affect the business plan. That said there were still some policies that have impacted on the plan:-
· Roll out of full service Universal Credit to all remaining working age tenants in Rotherham since July 2018 onwards.
· Ongoing Right to Buy eligibility.
· Updated Guidance on Social rents permitting increases of CPI + 1% from 2020-21 onwards.
The Business Plan, therefore, recognised the importance of continuing investment in new affordable homes, focused on the next five years and would continue to be amended and reported annually. Given the economic uncertainty the overall position remained challenging, but given the level of reserves and the previous decision to defer some investment in stock until later in the Plan the ability to divert resources to fund housing growth and contribute to the Council Plan remained.
A detailed technical overview was provided of the current position and the reason for changes to the Business Plan and this report was to be considered alongside the proposed 2020-21 rents, service charges and budgets.
The priorities in the Housing Growth Programme over the next five years were:-
· Developing 171 new homes in the town centre.
· Piloting modern methods of construction in order to ascertain the potential to build homes at an increased pace and lower cost.
· Delivering more shared ownership homes to enable first time buyers and older people wishing to downsize, to own an affordable home.
· Continuing to build bungalows and other accessible accommodation to enable older people and people with support needs to live independently.
· Releasing HRA owned sites for development by the private sector and housing associations.
Councillor Carter supported the sentiments of the report, but asked how greenfield sites could be protected. He was advised and information shared about the strategic acquisition programme, the use of Section 106 Agreements and the development of housing with significant market discounts in order to deliver high quality homes across the Borough including a large proportion which would be added to the Council’s housing stock.
Councillor Beck recapped over the town centre housing programme delivering 177 new homes across three sites for those Members that sought clarification; former Henleys Garage, Millfold House on Westage and Sheffield Road car park. This would deliver a mixture of tenures with homes for Council rent, some for shared ownership and some open market sales to sell to people to get on the housing ladder.
Councillor Sansome fully supported the proposals which had started to move young families into having their own properties or Council houses. He referred to the use of modern housing and modern methods of housing and asked about the amount of numbers for this year and any progress there would be for future years, which the Cabinet Member would respond to in writing.
Resolved:- (1) That the proposed 2020-21 Base Case Option 3 for the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan be approved.
(2) That the plan be reviewed annually to provide an updated financial position.
Mover:- Councillor Beck Seconder:- Councillor Read