Housing Revenue Account budget for 2023/24 and Business Plan
Flintshire’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget for 2023/24 and the HRA 30 year Financial Business Plan when it meets on Tuesday 17 January.
The HRA Business Plan covers the repair and maintenance of the Council’s homes, improvement work including environmental improvement, neighbourhood management including tackling anti-social behaviour, estate caretaking, income collection and customer involvement for its 7,300 Council homes, in addition it also sets out an ambitious council house building programme.
In December 2019, Welsh Government released the revised rent policy for a 5-year period beginning in April 2020/21 setting out an annual rent uplift of up to Consumer Price Index (CPI) +1% using the level of CPI from the previous September each year. This policy is designed to ensure that affordability for tenants is at the core of our considerations and when setting the rent uplift, landlords should consider value for money and the whole cost of living in a property as part of their rationale for setting rents.
The CPI as of September 2022 was 10.1%. The rent policy states that should CPI fall outside the range of 0% to 3%, the Welsh Minister with responsibility for housing will determine the appropriate change to rent levels to be applied for that year only. The Minister has set a maximum limit at which social rents can increase to 6.5% from April 2023.
Flintshire’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, Councillor Sean Bibby, said:
“We are investing in our housing stock and continuing to build new homes to help combat the current housing crisis. Just over £29.4m has been built into our council house improvement programme for 2023/24 financial year this includes environmental programmes, adaptations for those with disabilities and energy efficiency works.
“In addition, £7.668m has been built into 2023/24 for new build Council housing. The programme currently has five schemes in the pipeline for 2023/24 which will provide an additional 52 properties into the current social housing stock. The business plan also assumes a further 51 units in 2024/25 and 50 units per annum thereafter, up to 2030/31.”
Cabinet Member for Finance, Inclusion, Resilient Communities including Social Value and Procurement, Councillor Paul Johnson, said:
“Because we are committed to balancing the affordability of rents for tenants with maintaining our service delivery and the standard of our properties, there will be an overall uplift for rents of 5% for all tenants. This is below the maximum permissable limit of 6.5% set by Welsh Government. It is important to note that 71% of all of our tenants are eligible for housing benefit or universal credit support towards their rent and service charges.
“The Welsh Government rent and service charge policy expects all social landlords to achieve full cost recovery. Flintshire has been working towards this. However, service charges were frozen in 2021/22 to help tenants experiencing financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19. It is proposed, as part of this business plan, that service charges continue to be frozen into 2023/24.”
Proposed garage rents are set to increase by 51p per week to £10.74 per week (based on 52 weeks). The proposed garage plot rent increase is 8p per week taking it to £1.74 per week.
The context for this year’s HRA budget setting includes:
- To ensure affordability for tenants is at the core of our considerations
- Continued drive to ensure all service costs are efficient and that value for money can be achieved
- To ensure the treasury management strategy continues to meet the Housing Revenue Account’s new and ongoing borrowing requirements
- Setting a balanced budget with a minimum of 4% surplus revenue over expenditure
- Maximisation of revenue efficiencies to minimise the borrowing required to meet Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS)
- Delivery of new build Council housing
- Continued drive to ensure homes are energy efficient and explore decarbonisation
- Provision of adequate ongoing capital to maintain WHQS levels