Housing budget to be discussed
Plans to invest more than £50 million across housing services will go before Dudley Council’s cabinet when it meets next week (October 28).
The proposed budget for 2022/2023 sees £22.6million 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 £27.2 million to cover the cost of responsive repairs and routine void works as well as annual statutory duties such as fire risk assessments, servicing of gas appliances, electrical inspections and lift servicing.
The council will also contribute up to £250,000 towards discretionary housing payments, topping up a grant from government which was almost £650,000 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 an increase in rents, linked to inflation and in line with government policy, which would mean the average weekly rent would rise in April 2022. Money raised through this increase will be reinvested in housing services.
Services charges will in most cases be increased in line with inflation, following a freeze on increases last year.
Cabinet will also consider an enhanced programme of improvement works including estate regeneration and building new homes. This takes advantage of the council’s borrowing flexibility for housing, and schemes are being developed in consultation with tenants and residents.
Councillor Laura Taylor-Childs, cabinet member for housing and community services, said:
After what has been another 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 ongoing impact of the pandemic, along with inflationary pressures and higher demand for our services, it is necessary to bring in a small rent increase.
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.