Millions of pounds are set to be invested into making further improvements to council houses across the county borough.
This week members of the Executive Board unanimously approved the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan 2018/19 – a document which outlines the proposed spend on council houses improvements over the next 12 months, with view to future years as well.
£50.3m will be invested in 2018/19 to help bring the properties up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). A further £103.3m of investment is being proposed for the following four years, 2019 to 2023.
Over the past few years millions of pounds have been invested into improving council-owned properties and bringing them up to the WHQS, which sets a minimum standard that all social housing in Wales should meet by 2020 or ideally sooner
As part of the improvement work thousands of homes across the county borough have undergone improvement works, including the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms, new central heating and external wall insulation.
This will ensure the provision of good quality housing, which is suitable for the needs of existing and future tenants. To achieve the required standard, Local Authorities are required to devise detailed programmes of works, which will ensure that people have the opportunity to live in homes that are:
• in a good state of repair
• safe and secure
• adequately heated, fuel efficient and well insulated
• contain up-to-date kitchens and bathrooms
• well managed
• located in attractive and safe environments
• as far as possible, suit the specific needs of the household (e.g. specific disabilities)
The report presented to councillors outlined details of the funding of the improvements, stating: “The Programme is funded from the WG’s Major Repairs Allowance, Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Revenue contribution, Capital Receipts from the sale of assets and Prudential Borrowing.
“When combined, they will fund the proposed programme to 2020 and beyond. The WHQS programme will be continually monitored, reviewed and revised as work progresses and expenditure will continue to be reported as part of the Council’s Capital Programme monitoring.
“In order to achieve WHQS by 2020, borrowing will peak in 2018/19 to £31 million and reduce to £1.3 million in 2020/21. Peak debt will be £290 million in 2019/20, which will be £5 million below the maximum debt cap of £295m (referred to as “Headroom”).
“The headroom increases significantly over the 30 year programme.”
“The Business Plan demonstrates that there is sufficient finance in terms of HRA revenue and borrowing availability to deliver WHQS by 2020. This headroom will be available for additional borrowing which could finance any future Housing Programme.”
Speaking at this week’s meeting, lead member for housing, Cllr David Griffiths explained that it was evident “the money we bring in is invested back into” the council housing stock.
Welcoming the additional investment, Council Leader Mark Pritchard said: “I am pleased there is another business plan in front of us. I hope it is one of many, it is what we would expect the tenants to expect of us.
“We started on this journey some time ago and I hope this journey continues and that we continue to invest millions into our council houses.”
The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan 2018/19 will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for approval.