Paul Hopkinson, Senior Housing Strategy Officer, presented his detailed report on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan 2023/28, which set out proposals to undertake a thorough review of the HRA during the first half of 2023 with the goal of developing an exciting 30-year business plan looking forward with what we wanted to achieve over the next 30 years.
He gave a power point presentation to members covering the following main areas:
· Our Five Strategic Priorities
· Strategic Priority 3 - Lets deliver quality housing
· Purpose of the Report
o To consult on the HRA Business Plan for 2023/24
o To discuss the development of a wide ranging 30-year Business Plan during 2023
· Introduction and Background
· Inhibiting Factors 2022
· What had Changed
· HRA Business Plan 2023-2028
o Primarily a financial document
o Outlined the environment the service operated in/main challenges
o Set out income and projections for the next five years
o Wide ranging consultation on the development of the plan
o Financial details fully congruent with MTFS
o Details of revenue and capital expenditure included
o Detailed Action Plan included
o Five-year business plan supported delivery of key housing services
· Looking to the Future -30 Year Plan
o We knew the gaps and were starting to fill them
o Allocated time and resources to set up a Project Team and develop a Project Plan
o Goal to develop the 30-year business plan by summer 2023
o Setting a HRA Business Plan for 2023/24
o Proposal for development of a wide ranging 30-year Business Plan during 2023.
Members discussed the content of the report and power point presentation in further detail.
The following comments/questions were made, responded to by officers as follows:
· Question: There was nothing in the HRA Business Plan regarding decarbonisation or our pledge to address net zero carbon emissions by 2030?
· Response: The City was in a better position than others in respect of decarbonisation saturation rates, currently at a SAP (energy efficiency) rating of 70 which was higher than the national average of 67. An extensive programme of improvements to council house stock over the next year included A Class replacement boilers, new double glazed windows, new external doors and heating systems, in order to improve home efficiency and get closer to the decarbonisation rate. The aspiration for future development of electronic/nitrogen replacement energy systems looking towards a sustainable future continued, although it was not yet available.
· Comment: The pledge to achieve Zero Carbon in the city by 2030 was a huge long-term vision which required extensive government funding to achieve. We must prove as a Housing provider that we were doing all we could.
· Response: The costs to achieve Zero Carbon in the city were phenomenal, we did not have the financial resources or the current technology to replace gas boilers. The ambition was to be carbon neutral by 2030. However, it could not be said that all housing stock would be carbon neutral by 2030.Officers would look to add information to the HRA Business Plan to aid an understanding as to the actions we were taking towards decarbonisation and our pledge to address net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Hopefully there would be a technical fix available in the next 3 to 5 years.
· Question: How was the allocation of replacement kitchens, bathrooms, doors, windows and heating systems prioritised?
· Response: All the contracts were currently either procured or out for procurement using smaller local contractors. Work would be conducted in tranches on a cyclical maintenance programme according to need. There were issues in staff recruitment covering all professions across the whole country, which was a problem.
· Question: Was it possible to stop the ‘Right to Buy’ Scheme for council housing stock?
· Response: This was not an option at the current time. The scheme was set down under government legislation. We were keeping our housing stock at a healthy level with new builds. The Western Growth Corridor development would help. The only way to increase the number of homes was through investment, not just building our own properties but other organisations doing the same.
· Comment: An LTP member highlighted an issue with some of the compliance controllers on new heating systems being too sensitive.
· Response: Officers agreed to look into this matter.
· Question: What was the current position in relation to recruitment of tradesmen within the housing service?
· Response: The service was gradually catching up and was looking to different approaches on recruiting staff particularly around apprenticeship opportunities.
· Question: Was it possible to review the Tenancy Agreement Policy to make it mandatory for operatives to enter properties to carry out updated works?
· Response: It was not possible to insist that tenants had new kitchens or bathrooms installed if they didn’t want them. Older people in particular did not want the upheaval.
· Question: How did the council deal with mould and damp in its housing stock other than painting over it? Was there a dedicated team to deal with this issue?
· Response: There had always been a mould and damp procedure. Many pre-war properties were not designed to be air-tight. Heat retention improved efficiency however ventilation was also important. There was a dedicated team of staff to deal with the increase in mould and damp complaints, also looking at best practice and updating procedures accordingly. Tenants would always be moved from their property if they were at risk of bad health due to mould.
· Question: Was there to be a revision of the Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector?
· Response: This was in the consultation and development stage. Members would be updated in due course.
· Question: Would a Tenancy Verification Business Plan be produced?
· Response: The HRA action plan had not been approved as yet. Once agreed ID verification visits would be built into the service plan.
RESOLVED that the HRA Business Plan 2023/24 be noted and the development of an updated 30-year business plan during 2023 be supported.