Agenda item



The Cabinet considered the Housing Revenue Account Budget 2023/24 to 2025/26 and Housing Rent Setting proposals for 2023/24 prior to the consideration of Council.  The report prepared by the Director of Corporate Services, in conjunction with officers from the Communities Department, brought together the latest proposals for the Revenue and Capital Budgets for the Housing Revenue Account 2023/24 to 2025/26.  It was noted the report had been considered, and endorsed, by the Community Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on the 19th December, 2022 as part of the budget consultation process, an extract of the minutes were appended to the report at Appendix C.


The report had been prepared reflecting the latest proposals contained in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan, being the primary financial planning tool for delivering the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus (CHS+) for the future. It was noted the proposed investment within the current business plan had delivered the CHS by 2015 (to those homes where tenants had agreed to have the work undertaken) provided investment to maintain the CHS+ and continued investment for the Housing and Regeneration Delivery Plan.


The report also detailed how rents would increase for 2023/24 with the HRA budget being set to reflect:-


·       Social Housing Rent Policy (set by Welsh Government)

·       Proposals contained in the Carmarthenshire Housing Revenue Account Business Plan

·       Housing Regeneration and Development Delivery Plan


The Cabinet Member for Resources advised that capital investment in the region of £231m had provided Carmarthenshire Home Standard to tenants and, more recently, up to the end of the current financial year, a further £92m would have been spent in maintaining the CHS+ home standard for properties and tenants.


Over the next 3 years it was expected that a further £61m would be spent on maintaining and upgrading the housing stock. The budget alsoprovided funding of some £43m over the next 3 years to support the Affordable Homes Programme, which was on top of the £68m expenditure already incurred to the end of this current financial year. The Strategy would also see the increase in the supply of affordable housing throughout the County through various solutions including our new build programme and buyback scheme.  Furthermore, whilst the higher cost of materials due to Brexit, Covid, the war in Europe and a shortage of workers had made finding suitable partners among contractors a significant challenge, this would be continuously monitored throughout the coming year.


Cabinet Members were reminded that since 2015, the Authority had been required to adopt the Welsh Government Policy for Social Housing Rent Harmonisation, meaning that the proposed rent increase was prescribed by Welsh Government guidance and provided an equitable distribution of the rents for the social sector tenants. 


While that policy ended in 2018/19, and an interim policy applied for 2019/20 the Welsh Government had subsequently developed a new policy for implementation in 2020/21 to apply for a period of 5 years from 2020/21 and contained some additional/amended requirements, as detailed within the report. The main elements of that policy allowed Local Authorities to uplift the total rent envelope by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) +1% for each of the five years to 2024/25. It also allowed for the level of rent for individual tenants to rise by up to an additional £2 over and above CPI +1% for rent harmonisation, on condition that total rental income collected by the social landlord increased by no more than CPI +1%. However, should CPI fall outside the range of 0% to 3%, the policy provides for the Minister with responsibility for Housing to determine the appropriate change to rent levels to be applied for that year only. As CPI was 10.1% in September 2022 this clause has been activated this year and the Government Minister for Climate Change has instructed that the maximum increase in the rent envelope for any local authority should not exceed 6.5%.


Members were made aware that this current policy would apply until 2024/25 and contained some additional criteria around tenant satisfaction, space standards, financial hardship, minimising evictions and energy efficiency.


In the face of the challenges, the Cabinet Member for Resources reported that all priorities had been responded to and that an overall rent increase of 5.5%, which was 1% beneath the cap set by Welsh Government.  Included within the overall rent increase envelope it was proposed that the Authority continued with the rent progression, which would be set at a maximum of £1 for properties below target rent. 


In summary, the report proposed the following increases: 


       Properties at target rent would increase by 5.36%, which represented a large proportion of tenants – nearly 8,000 tenants.  


       Properties where rent was below target rent, the rent would increase by 5.36% plus a maximum progression of £1 per week,  


       Rents above target would be frozen until they met the target. 




10.1      To increase average housing rent by 5.5% (£5.18) per dwelling per week as per WG Social Housing Rents Policy;


    Properties at target rents will increase by 5.36%, and;

    Properties where rent is below target rent, rent will increase by 5.36% plus a maximum progression of £1.00;

    Those rents above target are frozen until such time that they meet the target.


This will produce a sustainable Business Plan, maintain CHS+, resource our Housing Regeneration and Development Delivery Plan and is supported by Housing and Regeneration Strategic Team;

10.2.   To maintain garage rents at £9.00 and garage bases at £2.25;

10.3.   Apply the Service Charge Policy to ensure tenants who receive the benefit from specific services pay for those services;

10.4. To increase charges for using our sewerage treatment works in line with rent increase;


10.5. To approve the Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2023/26 (2024/25 & 2025/26 being soft budgets) as set out in Appendix A;

10.6.   To approve the proposed Capital Programme and applicable funding for 2023/24 and the indicative spends for 2024/25 to 2025/26 as set out in Appendix B.


Supporting documents: