A report from the Executive Director – Place and Director of Finance is attached. (Key decision – reference number 4741)
(7.50 – 7.55 pm)
Councillor Dino Lemonides (Cabinet Member for Housing) introduced the report of the Executive Director – Place and Director of Finance (No.163) setting out the proposed HRA 30-year business plan, the detailed HRA Revenue Budget for 2019/20, the five-year Capital Programme and Right to Buy (RTB) One for One Receipts programme (2019/20 to 2023/24).
1. That the report also presented the level of rents, service charges and heating charges to be operative with effect from 1 April 2019 for HRA Council Tenants and Leaseholders.
2. That the report should also be read in conjunction with Report No.165 – Better Council Homes Workplan and Budgets 2019/20 (Minute No.10 below refers).
3. The changes in the Government’s social rent policy as outlined in paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 of the report. From April 2020 local authorities would be allowed to increase rents by CPI plus 1%.
4. The key changes for Housing since the 2018/19 Rent Setting report as set out in paragraph 3.4 of the report.
5. The detailed capital programme set out in section 7 of the report including major works to the housing stock. The major works programme would aim to deliver: priority fire safety works and development of piloting a high-rise homes standard; decent homes works to approximately 7,000 properties, including kitchens and bathrooms; and, environmental and energy improvements.
6. That the Council had been successful in securing £18.1m of GLA grant for the next 3 years as part of the Building Council Homes for Londoners scheme, paragraph 7.6 of the report referred.
7. The information within section 8 of the report regarding the Right to Buy one for one replacement receipts and expenditure.
8. The proposed rent charges for HRA properties and service charges for 2019/20 as set out in sections 10 and 11 of the report.
9. The heating charges outlined in section 13 of the report and the reasons for the proposed increases.
10. In response, Members expressed their thanks to Councillor Lemonides and the officers involved for the significant work that had been undertaken and now being presented for approval, within the current financial constraints and challenges faced. Members also took this opportunity to praise the work of individual housing members of staff for their sensitivity and dedication in dealing with difficult housing circumstances faced by residents.
11. That whilst the Government cap on borrowing had been lifted, as set out in the report, there were still limitations and requirements that had to be met, including the development of rigorous business plans. Members noted the work that was already being undertaken regarding stock condition surveys and long-term planning.
12. The importance of the proposed fire safety works, together with the need to ensure that residents were fully aware of all relevant fire prevention issues with the assistance of the fire brigade. Safety was paramount. Members were advised of the appointment of a Council Safety Director with effect from 1 March 2019.
Alternative Options Considered: NOTED, that since the Government had implemented the Social Housing Policy which implemented a rent reduction of 1% the Council’s income had considerably reduced. This had created a shortfall in the business plan of c.£25m which had been funded from maximising other income sources and the use of HRA balances, Several different options had been considered around increasing the level of reserves within the HRA to ensure a sustainable business plan. Phased efficiency savings of 10% were being implemented across various departments to ensure a healthy level of balances were held (section 14 of the report referred).
RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL
1. To approve the HRA 30 – year Business Plan, as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report.
2. To approve the detailed HRA Revenue Budget for 2019/20.
3. To approve the 5-year HRA Capital Programme, RTB one for one receipts programme and additional borrowing requirements to deliver c.2,300 additional units.
4. To note the social and affordable rent levels for c.10,100 properties in 2019/20 and the introduction of the London Affordable Rent levels (only applicable to new properties included in the GLA programme).
5. To approve the level of service charges for 2019/20 for those properties receiving this service.
6. To note the heating charges for 2019/20 for those properties on communal heating systems.
7. To note the proposal to hold the weekly cost of private garages and note the increase in garage costs for council lets and parking bay rents.
Reason: The Council must comply with the law in setting its rents for Council tenants. The detailed reasons for the recommendations were set out in section 15 of the report.
(Key decision – reference number 4741)