To receive the joint report of the Executive Director of Place and Executive Director of Resources presenting for approval the revenue estimates of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for 2021/22, Business Plan Budget 2021/22 and rent setting and service charges.
Members are asked to note that this report was considered by Cabinet on 3 February 2021 and recommended to Council.
Councillor Needs moved and Councillor Caliskan seconded the report of the Executive Director Place and Executive Director Finance, on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan Budget 2021/22, Rent Setting and Service Charges.
1. That the recommendations in the report had been endorsed and approved for recommendation onto Council by Cabinet on 3 February 2021.
2. Councillor Needs in proposing the report highlighted the following:
· The report should be read in conjunction with the report at item 11, Better Council Homes.
· The report set out the work being done on existing and new council homes and the income, rents fees and service charges in line with policies, for the next year.
· This was a five year settlement. There would be a 1.5% rent increase in line with Government guidelines.
· Officers were working with residents to help them sustain their tenancies.
· To urge the Government to keep in place a universal uplift of £20 in the level of universal credit.
3. Councillor Smith responded on behalf of the majority opposition highlighting the following:
· Agreement with some of the provisions in the report but disagreement with most.
· Agreement that there should be investment in Council housing but a view that tenures should be mixed and new properties should be built privately.
· Support for minimising rent increases and service charges but regret for the failure to listen to a recent court of appeal judgement.
· Welcome for the achievement of 5% efficiency savings.
· Disagreement with the move to bring housing development back in house, because of the Council’s perceived poor track record in this area.
· Preference for partnership working with other organisations who had greater access to grant funding and because it took too long for council housing departments to build up the skills and experience necessary.
· Concern about the increase in charges for garages and community halls as it was a time, once restrictions were lifted to encourage community use of the halls.
4. Comments of the majority group:
· The need to acknowledge the achievement in keeping the Housing Revenue Account in balance and in keeping rises to 1.5%, which meant that the rents were still affordable. Rents were set in consultation with residents through Customer Voice.
· There was a need to generate income and to create new housing units: 3,500 extra units were planned as part of the 10 year capital programme.
· The overall housing plans were ambitious, but achievable.
· Congratulations to everyone involved in putting together the plans.
· The report should be considered alongside other reports on the agenda and members should be reassured that borrowing was on a risk-based approach, and the plans spread over ten years.
· Estate renewal and redevelopment were essential to create more much needed affordable homes and transform existing homes. This is what Enfield residents deserved.
· Homes in the first phase of the Meridian Water project were under construction. The Government had praised the Council for the work done so far and awarded funds for infrastructure works.
· Housing Associations were obvious partners.
· The report contained ... view the full minutes text for item 7
A report from the Executive Director – Resources is attached. (Key decision – reference number 5212)
Councillor Gina Needs (Cabinet Member for Social Housing) introduced the report of the Executive Director – Place setting out the proposed HRA 30-year business plan, the detailed HRA revenue budget for 2021/22, the ten-year capital programme and right to buy one for one receipts programme.
1. The approvals being sought for recommendation to full Council as set out in the report and detailed in the decisions below.
2. That in October 2019 the Government had announced a change to the Social Housing Rent Standard Policy that from April 2020 for a 5 year period, local authorities could increase rents by Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% which had been incorporated into the Business Plan.
3. The efficiency savings as set out in paragraph 23 of the report.
4. Members’ view that the Government should maintain the current uplift in Universal Credit.
5. The consultation which had taken place through Customer Voice, and the ongoing consultations that took place with residents.
Alternative Options Considered: Not applicable to this report.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed to approve and recommend to Council to:
1. Approve the HRA 30-year Business Plan as shown in Appendix 1 of the report.
2. Approve the detailed HRA Revenue Budget for 2021/22 as shown in paragraph 20 of the report.
3. Approve the 10-year HRA Capital Programme and borrowing requirements to deliver 3,500 additional units.
4. Approve a rent increase for 1.5% in line with Government guidelines noting the social and affordable rent levels for 10,400 properties in 2021/22.
5. Approve the level of service charges for 2021/22 for those properties receiving this service.
6. Approve the charges for community hall hire, garages and parking bay rents.
7. Note the heating charges for 2021/22 for those properties on communal heating systems.
8. Approve the Rent and Tenancy Policy as set out in Appendix 2 of the report.
9. Note the introduction of service charges to the later living schemes for existing residents subject to engagement.
Reason: To ensure that a balanced 30-year HRA Business Plan is approved by Council. To ensure that the HRA Budget is set by the Council and that this budget does not put the HRA into deficit. To set the affordable and social rent and service charge levels for HRA properties, in line with the Government’s Social Housing Rent Policy. This decision must be taken early enough for the tenants to be advised of the change at least 4 weeks prior to the date of that change.
(Key decision – reference number 5212)