To agree recommendations associated with the housing revenue account rent setting and budget for 2023 – 2024.
The report had not been circulated five clear days in advance of the meeting. The chair agreed to accept this item as urgent as it was critical that decisions were made in good time to ensure the 28-day statutory notification period could be complied with (and avoid losses in the event of not doing so), such that the changes to rents and charges can be implemented and become effective from 3 April 2023.
Appendix F setting out resident engagement was circulated.
1. That a capped rent increase of 7% for all directly and tenant managed (TMO) housing stock within the housing revenue account (excluding supported accommodation) be agreed. This is the maximum permitted under the government’s temporary rent cap for 2023-24, as set out at paragraphs 16-17 of the report, with effect from 3 April 2023.
2. That supported accommodation rents by consumer price index (CPI) +1% (11.1%) be increased, in line with the government’s prescribed rent formula and in accordance with the specific exclusion granted in the autumn statement, as set out at paragraph 18 of the report with effect from 3 April 2023.
3. That the rent increase be capped for the council’s shared ownership properties at 7% in line with the council’s other housing stock, as set out at paragraph 19 of the report with effect from 3 April 2023.
4. That tenant service charges, comprising estate cleaning, grounds maintenance, communal lighting and door entry maintenance as set out in paragraphs 36-37 of the report be agreed with effect from 3 April 2023.
5. That the increase to sheltered housing service charges as set out in paragraphs 38-39 of the report be increased with effect from 3 April 2023.
6. That the increases in charges for garages and other non-residential facilities as set out in paragraphs 40-41 of the report with effect from 3 April 2023 be agreed.
7. That the increases to district heating (fuel) charges, including metered (fuel) charges as set out in paragraphs 42-60 of the report with effect from 3 April 2023 be agreed.
8. That officers be instructed to undertake more frequent review of district heating (fuel) charges in light of the exceptional rise in energy costs and realign them as necessary, to ensure the ring-fenced district heating account remains in balance over the medium-term.
9. That in relation to recommendation 8 above, that subject to proper notice being given and the correct procedure being followed, the price charged to tenants for fuel should move up or down in line with the actual cost incurred by the council be agreed. Furthermore, that consultation be carried out on varying the provisions of the tenancy agreement accordingly to exempt the requirement to consult on district heating (fuel) charges, as set out at paragraphs 49-50 of the report.
10. That it be agreed to match fund the government’s allowance for discretionary housing payments (DHP), on a one-off basis for 2023-24, as set out in paragraph 72 of the report.
11. That the budget proposals for 2023-24 as set out in Appendices C to E of the report be agreed.
12. That commitment to ensure that where savings proposals are primarily based on efficiencies and where staffing reductions form part of any savings proposal that due consultation and process is followed with trade unions be reaffirmed.
13. That a report be received in early 2023 providing an update on involving residents in engagement.