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Green light for housing budget

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Plans to invest more than a quarter of a billion pounds in housing services were given the green light last night (Monday February 24).

At a meeting of the full council, members agreed to the £85million housing budget for the new financial year and the £173 million capital investment programme over the next four years.

The housing budget for 2020/2021 includes £19.5million allocated to housing management to cover day-to-day duties such as income collection, tenancy enforcement, and support for vulnerable tenants as well as lettings and void management.

It also includes £23.7million to cover the cost of responsive repairs and routine void works as well as annual statutory duties such as servicing of gas appliances, electrical inspections and lift servicing.

£173million will be spent over the next four years to support improvements to council homes, including the replacement of kitchens and bathrooms, new central heating, insulation and other improvements that will help to alleviate fuel poverty, and works to help people to continue to live independently in their own homes.

The council will also continue its programme of high quality new council house building, and has secured grant of £4.8million from Homes England to support the funding of major refurbishment at two of our sheltered housing schemes.

The budget also takes into account changes to rent charges. For the last four years, the government has imposed a one percent reduction to social landlords’ rents.

From April 2020, the council, along with other authorities, will be able to increase rent in line with government guidelines. The budget proposes a 2.7 percent increase, which will see the average weekly rent increase from £76.47 to £78.53. This is the first increase for five years and rents will still be lower than they were when the reduction was first imposed.

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing, communities and residents’ welfare, said:

I’m pleased to see this level of investment has been given the support of full council. It means we can continue to maintain and improve our homes for the benefits of tenants.

Full council also approved a small increase to garage rents, taking into account inflation over the last three years. Garage rents were last increased in April 2017.

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