To consider the proposed 2022-23 Base Case Option 1 for the HRA Business Plan.
Further to Minute No. 82 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 20th December, 2021, consideration was given to the report detailing the overview of the current position of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the reason for any changes to the Business Plan.
The 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 30 year period. It was reported that by the end of March 2022, 194 new Council homes would have been built since the start of the Housing Growth Programme.
A further £92.3m would be invested to deliver the Council’s ambition to create 1,000 homes between 2018 and 2025-26. It was also reported that over the short to medium term forecast, the Business Plan was operating at or around the minimum balance. However, over the longer term, there was a significant squeeze on resources due to inflationary pressures even before the costs of achieving net zero carbon were factored in.
Paragraph 2.2 of the report outlined the focus on the HRA Business Plan which included objectives such as supporting new affordable housing, supporting tenants to maximise income, tackling fuel poverty and achieving and maintaining the Decent Homes standards. Since the last update of the HRA Business Plan there had been significant policy changes, specifically relating to the Council’s commitment to become net zero carbon by 2030. This created a significant financial challenge for the Plan.
The overall position remained challenging, particularly given the inflationary pressures evident in costs for delivery of the Housing Growth Programme and more generally the cost base of the HRA. As a consequence, it was deemed necessary to increase rents by 4.1%, in line with the Government’s Rent Standard.
It was noted that the increase would not impact the most financially vulnerable tenants. The preferred option for the HRA Business Plan Base Case was outlined in the report as Option 1 and would result in the HRA having an operational surplus of £34m and provide support to the Housing Growth agenda and the Council’s General Fund position.
Councillors A. Carter and Barley indicated their opposition to the HRA Business Plan. The Council could make its own choices and determine the rent increases accordingly.
(Members in favour – Councillors Alam, Allen, The Mayor (Councillor Andrews), Atkin Aveyard, Baker-Rodgers, Beck, Bennett-Sylvester, Bird, Brookes, Browne, Clark, Cooksey, Cusworth, Elliott, Ellis, Griffin, Havard, Hoddinott, Hughes, Jones, Keenan, Khan, Lelliott, McNeely, Monk, Pitchley, Read, Roche, Sansome, Sheppard, Taylor, Wyatt and Yasseen)
(Members against – Councillors Bacon, Ball, Barley, Baum-Dixon, A. Carter, C. Carter, Castledine-Dack, T. Collingham Z. Collingham, Fisher, Hunter, Mills, Miro, Reynolds, Tarmey, Thompson, Tinsley, Whormsley and Wooding)
Resolved:- (1) That the proposed 2022-23 Base Case Option 1 for the HRA Business Plan be approved.
(2) That the plan be reviewed annually to provide an updated financial position.
Mover:- Councillor Brookes Seconder:- Councillor Allen