This report will be published in an Additional Papers pack once it has been published for the Executive Committee.
The Housing Property Services Manager presented the report on the 30 year Housing Revenue Account (HRA) business plan and in doing so drew Members’ attention to pages 5 to 37 of the Additional Papers 1 pack.
Officers presented an overview of the 30-year HRA business plan, the asset management strategy for housing stock and the 2023-2027 capital investment programme. These were key strategic documents for the HRA strategy for the management of the condition of the Council’s stock. The HRA also enabled the Council to deliver a wide range of services to tenants including the maintenance and servicing of properties.
Officers detailed the key assumptions which the HRA needed to use for a long-term projection these included:
Officers also detailed the sensitivity analysis which had been undertaken on the aforementioned assumptions, The analysis took into consideration, the number of void properties and the performance on turning those around, rent increases, management costs and any debt/borrowing. The plan also ensured that reserves were maintained in the eventuality of changes to those assumptions.
Officers detailed that modern facilities, such as kitchens, bathrooms, new central heating systems and electrical rewiring, were considered high priorities in the plan and these would be delivered via a contract to commence in the 2023/2024 financial year.
Clear guidance had been received from the government to achieve a minimum of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C for all Local Authority housing stock by 2030.
To achieve the EPC targets and modern facility upgrades there would be £40m available over 5 years to develop existing properties, with an additional £15m for new developments.
Officers clarified the following points following questions from Members.
Officers explained that there would be a nationally driven survey undertaken in the new financial year which would be used to get baseline data to be compared against during subsequent years. There was expected to be 500 responses required which needed to be from an adequate cross section of tenants in the Borough. Officers also detailed the strict IT guidelines that needed to be adhered to, therefore, there would be no room for adaptation to tailor the survey to the needs of the Borough. It was noted that the data could be used to form a league table of sorts for Local Authorities, however, Members expressed the opinion that the Council should not compare itself to other authorities but instead use the data to strive for improvements year on year.
Members raised concern regarding the funding to retrofit properties to an EPC rating of C. Officers detailed that some of the funding would be covered by government awards but there would be some built into the HRA. The extent of the work and any capital projects would be decided after assessments were completed. Members also expressed a view that more could be done in particular regarding solar panels with new and existing properties.
Officers outlined plans to try and manage the housing stock which included incentivising occupants to move into smaller properties to free up much needed family homes. Officers also detailed that they would decide on what type of properties to prioritise during construction based on current demand at the time.
At the end of a lengthy debate the Committee
1) The Housing Revenue Account 30-year Business Plan 2023-2053 be approved as set out in Appendix 1.
2) The Housing Asset Management Strategy be approved as set out in Appendix 2.
3) The Housing Capital Programme 2023-2027 be approved as set out in Appendix 3.
4) The Executive Committee consider the following:
a) Providing more parking spaces or being more specific about when and where parking spaces will be provided for Council houses.
b) Transferring funding for handling mould and damp on properties from the Repairs and Maintenance (R&M) budget to the Capital Programme.
c) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee highlights the projected loss of 600 properties and the need to consider what can be done to reduce this figure.
d) Fitting solar panels to new build properties and / or suitable existing properties in the Council’s housing stock.
e) Adding a provisional budget, which could be amended at a later date, to pay for works needed to improve the energy efficiency of the Council’s housing stock to at least an EPC C rating.