Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
Cabinet is asked to approve the HRA Budget 2022/23 and Capital Programme 2022/23 -2026/27.
Cabinet considered the Approval of the HRA Budget 2022/23 & Capital Programme 2022/23-2026/27 report presented by Councillor Joshua Chapman.
It was explained that a budget for the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and HRA Major Works and Capital Programme was set out in the report. Cabinet had approved the Housing Asset Management Plan 2021-2051 in October 2021.
Furthermore, the budgets and projections of expenditure required maintenance of the stock to a good standard and was used in the preparation of the capital programme contained in the report. A summary of the HRA Business Plan 2022-52 was provided in the report.
The HRA was a ring-fenced account that was used to manage and maintain the Council’s own housing stock. The proposed budget would enable the Council to manage and maintain the housing to a good standard and provide funding for a significant acquisition, new build and estate regeneration programme. It further set the rents, service charges and other charges for Council tenants and leaseholders for the year 2022/23.
It was explained that as part of the new regulatory framework for local government housing services, councils were now subject to the Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) Rent Standard. This ended the annual 1% reduction and re-established the CPI + 1% increase.
In order to change any HRA rent liability, the local authority was required to notify tenants and give 28 days’ notice of any change after the authority had made a properly constituted decision of that change. Therefore, any Cabinet decision on rent levels to be charged in any year, required the local authority to write to all tenants and advise them of the new rent liability for the following 12 months.
Should the Cabinet adopt the recommendations, a notification would be sent to tenants in the first week of March 2022, to make the new charge effective from the first week of April 2022.
Councillor Chapman explained that the increase on council rents was based on inflation and that half of the cost was passed on to help residents. There was a further provision in the budget for health and safety and recovery from the government. Match funding was available for investment in decarbonisation of council homes and an increased buy back scheme for local families was in place. There was also an increase in affordable homes through joint venture schemes with the HRA and a welcome association centre for the homeless had recently opened.
Concern was raised by Members about tenants being refunded for services they were not receiving. It was noted that service charges were auditing by officers and that any complaints around this were investigated thoroughly. Furthermore, there was an openness and transparency with resident’s charges and this was set out in the resident engagement strategy.
It was also explained that a £5m upgrade on CTTV technology would be undertaken and that a report would be provided at the next cabinet meeting.
In terms of the decarbonisation program, there was a requirement to ensure investment was done correctly and building control were already implementing the 2025 changes around no gas boilers.
The Leader summarised the discussion and commented around the new welcome centre. He said he had received comments around the quality of the environment of the centre and the service and support that residents there had received. Havering Council was championing on this and had the numbers to support people. The buyback scheme and wider regeneration synergies created meant that funding was secured to ensure that sites could be acquired and he was confident that a framework would be created across the authority within the next 10 years.
AGREED the following:
1. To approve the Housing Revenue Account Budget as detailed in paragraph 3.4.
2. To agree that the rents chargeable for tenants in general needs Council properties owned by the London Borough of Havering be increased by 4.1% from the week commencing 5th April 2022.
3. To agree that the rents chargeable for tenants in supported housing Council properties, such as sheltered housing and hostels, owned by the London Borough of Havering, are increased by 4.1% from the week commencing 4th April 2022.
4. To agree the four rent-free weeks for 2021/22 are: week commencing 22nd August 2022, the two weeks commencing 19th and 26th December 2022, and the week commencing 27th March 2022.
5. To agree that service charges and heating and hot water charges for 2022/23 are as detailed in paragraph 2.10 of this report.
6. To agree that charges for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) leased and managed by the Council (General Fund) are set at the LHA applicable on the 4th April 2022.
7. To agree that charges for garages should be increased by 4.1% in 2022/23 as detailed in paragraph 2.7 of this report.
8. To agree that the service charge for the provision of intensive housing management support in sheltered housing for 2022/23 shall be as detailed in paragraph 2.17 of this report.
9. To agree the Supported Housing Charge for HRA Hostels as detailed in paragraph 2.22.
10. To agree that the Careline and Telecare support charge should be increased by 4.1% for 2022/23 as detailed in paragraph 2.19 of this report.
11. To approve the HRA Major Works Capital Programme, detailed in Appendix 1a of this report and refer it to full Council for final ratification.
12. To approve the HRA Capital expenditure and financing for the 12 Sites Joint Venture and other acquisition and regeneration opportunities detailed in section 4 and Appendix 1b of this report and refer it to full Council for final ratification.
Report author: Rita Bacheta
Publication date: 16/02/2022
Date of decision: 16/02/2022
Decided at meeting: 16/02/2022 - Cabinet