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Housing budget to be considered

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Plans to invest more than £40million across housing services will go before Dudley Council’s cabinet when it meets next week (December 17).

The proposed budget for 2021/2022 sees £20.2million 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 outlines plans to invest £23.4million 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.

The council will also contribute up to £550,000 towards discretionary housing payments, topping up a grant from government which was £863,075 in the current year. These payments are used to support people who are already receiving benefits but need extra help to meet their housing costs.

In this year’s budget, the council is also proposing a 1.5 percent increase in rents, which would mean the average weekly rent would rise in April 2021 by just over a pound a week, from £78.53 to £79.71. Money raised through this small increase will be reinvested in housing services.

Services charges will remain the same in most cases.

Cabinet will also consider an enhanced programme of improvement works including estate regeneration and building new homes. This will take advantage of the council’s new borrowing flexibility for housing, and will be developed in consultation with tenants and residents.

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing and community services, said:

After what has been a difficult year for so many, including our tenants, I’m pleased we’re in a position to continue our significant investment in housing services and show our commitment to improving our homes as we move into the new financial year in the spring.
To help us invest at the pace we are and to address budget issues moving forward which have come about as a result of the pandemic, it is necessary to bring in a small rent increase equivalent to just over a pound a week.
While we wish this was avoidable, all of the money raised through this increase will be ploughed back into housing services. We will continue to offer support to some people who struggle to meet their housing costs through our discretionary housing payments.

Members will be asked to consider all of these proposals along with a revised capital programme and a 30 year business plan for the Housing Revenue Account.

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