Agenda item



(NOTE: Councillors J. Edmunds and H.A.L. Evans had earlier declared an interest in this item)


Council was informed that the Executive Board, at its meeting held on the 4th February, 2019 [minute 8 refers] had considered the Housing Revenue Account Budget 2019/20 to 2021/22 and Housing Rent Setting for 2019/20 and had made a number of recommendations, as detailed within the Director of Corporate Services’ report for Council’s consideration.


Council received a presentation by the Executive Board Member for Resources, on behalf of the Executive Board, on the Revenue and Capital Budgets for the Housing Revenue Account 2019/2022, that reflected the plans within the 30 year Business Plan, being the primary financial planning tool for the delivery of the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus (CHS+) and the Affordable Housing Strategy.


The Executive Board Member advised that the Capital investment of £231m within the current business plan had delivered the CHS+ for tenants and the further budget going forward had been developed to ensure appropriate funding was allocated to maintain the CHS+ standard for all the Council’s properties into the future. He reported that over the next 3 years it was anticipated the sum of £45m would be spent in maintaining and upgrading the housing stock thereby continuing the journey as detailed in the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus Business Plan.


The budget also provided funding of some £44m over the next 3 years to support the Council’s Affordable Homes Programme and would increase the supply of affordable housing throughout the County via various solutions including, our new build programme and the buyback scheme. The new build programme, would be undertaken via both the capital programme and through the new Housing Company– Cartrefi Croeso


The Executive Board Member reminded the council that since 2015, the Authority had been required to adopt the Welsh Government Social Housing Rent Harmonisation Policy, which effectively required proposed rent increases being prescribed by Welsh Government guidance thereby providing a more equitable distribution of the rents for the social sector tenants. Whilst that policy ended in 2018/19, the Welsh Government had adopted an interim policy for 1 year for 2019/20 that allowed those local authorities within their target rent band to increase rent by CPI only, with the anticipation that Welsh Government would develop a new policy for implementation in 2020/21. 


However, on the 30 January 2019, after the initial interim policy had been considered by all Local Housing Authorities, the Welsh Government had notified Local Authorities of an amendment to that policy allowing Local Authorities with average rent within the Target Rent Band the flexibility to use the 'up to £2 per week' progression, subject to ensuring that the overall rent increase for general needs and sheltered housing stock did not exceed 2.4% and that no individual tenant would receive a rent increase of more than the agreed policy uplift of 2.4% plus the £2.00 progression. That amendment had enabled the Executive Board to consider a rent increase that allowed the Authority to meet its previous commitment to tenants, by implementing the original harmonisation policy and establishing a fairer rent level for all tenants. As a consequence, the Executive Board had proposed that the rent be set at a low and fair level, which was in line with Welsh Government guidance and maintained the Council’s harmonisation policy i.e.:-

-        Properties at target rents to increase by 1.92%

-        Those rents above target be frozen until such time that they meet the target rent.

-        Those rents below target rent be increased by 1.92% and are progressed by a maximum of £1 per week.

That would produce an increase on the average housing rent of 2.4% or £2.05 and would support a sustainable business plan.

In moving the Executive Board recommendations, the Executive Board Member advised the revised proposal had been considered, and endorsed by the Community Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on the 14th February, 2019. The motion was duly seconded and it was:


UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the following recommendations of the Executive Board be adopted:-


-        “To increase the average housing rent as per the Welsh Government’s Social Housing Rents Policy [amended 30 January]

a)    Properties at target rents to increase by 1.92%

b)    Those rents above target are frozen until such time as they meet the target rent

c)    Those rents below target rent are increased by 1.92% and are progressed by a maximum of £1 per week


Thereby producing an increase on the average housing rent of 2.4% or £2.05 and will provide the Housing Account with the same overall rent collection value;


-        To maintain garage rents at £9.00 per week and garage bases at £2.25 per week;


-        To apply the service charge policy to ensure tenants who receive the benefit from specific services pay for those services;


-        To increase charges for using our sewage treatment works in line with rent increases;


-        To approve the Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2019/20 [with 2020/21 and 2021/22 being soft budget] as set out in Appendix B;


-        To approve the proposed Capital Programme and applicable funding for 2019/20 and the indicative spends for the future years 2020/21 to 2021/22 as set out in Appendix A”


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