Issue - meetings

Council Housing Budget (including rents) 2024/2025

Meeting: 26/01/2024 - Cabinet Member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness (Item 29)

Council Housing Budget (including rents) 2024/2025

Purpose of Report

 

1.    The law requires that all income and expenditure relating to Council Housing is accounted for separately in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).  All other council income and expenditure is accounted for together in a separate account called the General Fund.  This report deals solely with the HRA.

 

2.    The City Council has delegated the function of setting rents, charges and revenue budgets for Council Housing to the Cabinet Member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness.  Following consultation with residents and leaseholders, this report seeks to address all HRA budget issues.

 

3.    The purpose of this report is to seek the Cabinet Member's decisions on the City Council Housing budgets, rents and other charges and to give authority for managers to incur expenditure in 2024/2025.

 

4.    The report also seeks to:

 

·         Note the Forecast Revenue Outturn for 2023/2024 and give authority to the Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services & the Director of Finance and Resources to amend the budgets to reflect the latest available information prior to finalising budgets for 2024/2025.

 

·         Note the Forecast Revenue Budgets for 2025/26 to 2027/28 arising from the proposals set out in this report.

 

·         Set rents with an average increase of 7.7%, which is in line with the maximum increase allowed by Central Government's Social Rent Setting Policy.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

It is recommended that the Cabinet Member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness approves the following:

 

1.    The Forecast Revenue Outturn for 2023/24 arising from monitoring discussion with Managers, as set out at Appendix 3, be noted.

 

2.    All rents and charges to be effective from Monday 1st April 2024 or such other date as determined by the Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services, in consultation with the Director of Finance and Resources.

 

3.    Dwelling Rents for 2024/25 to be set with an average increase of 7.7% which is in line with the maximum allowable under Central Government's Social Rent Setting Policy, as summarised in Appendix 4.

 

4.    General Service Charges for 2024/25 to be set at this meeting, as set out in this report and in accordance with Appendix 5.

 

5.    Sheltered Housing Service Charges for 2024/25 to be set at this meeting, as set out in this report, and in accordance with Appendix 6.

 

6.    Laundry Charges for 2024/25 to be set at this meeting, as set out in this report, and in accordance with Appendix 7.

 

7.    Heating Charges for 2024/25 to be set in accordance with Appendix 8.

 

8.    Garages and Parking Site Rents for 2024/25, as shown in Appendix 9, be approved and authority to let garages at reduced rents where demand is low be delegated to the Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services, in consultation with the Director Finance and Resources.

 

9.    The Revenue Budget for 2024/25, as set out in Appendix 3, be approved and authority given to the Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services, in consultation with the Director of Finance and Resources, to amend the budgets to reflect the latest available  ...  view the full agenda text for item 29

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Alan Denford, Housing Finance Manager, presented the report, the purpose of which was to seek the Cabinet Member's decision on the Portsmouth City Council Housing Budgets, rents, and other charges and to give authority for managers to incur expenditure in 2024/2025. 

 

The report was also for the Cabinet Member to note the Forecast Revenue Outturn for 2023/24; to give authority to the Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services and the Director of Finance and Resources to amend the budgets to reflect the latest available information prior to finalising budgets for 2024/25 and for the Cabinet Member to note the Forecast Revenue Budgets for 2025/26 to 2027/28 arising from the proposals set out in the report. 

 

Resident Consortium Questions

In response to questions from the Resident Consortium, officers clarified:

 

·         Leaseholder service charges were calculated in a different way to tenants' service charges.  Tenants' service charges are fixed and there is no reconciliation process at the end of the financial year.  Leaseholder service charges are variable with a reconciliation process at the end of the year.  The estimates were based on the last three years and what is likely to happen in the coming year.  The charges will vary but will only ever be what has actually been spent in the building in terms of services and utility costs.

 

·         Service charges were calculated differently due to the Leaseholder agreement stating that service charges are on a variable basis and tenancy agreements stating they are on a fixed basis.  Most of the service charges are the same for leaseholders and tenants.

 

·         The bad debt figure for 2023/2024 was the actual contribution made into the provision based on the forecast actual level of debt at year end.  Although the level of debt had not increased significantly, the service was being prudent by putting more money into the bad debt provision in future years because of the current cost of living position.

 

·         There had not been a huge spike in arrears and that was down to the work housing officers had carried out around advice on benefits and income maximisation.  There was a money and advice team to work with tenants on more complex debt or finance issues.

 

 

Members Questions

In response to Member's questions, officers clarified:

 

·         Parking and garage charges proposed increase was at a lower rate than the rents and service charges, as they were increased by the consumer price index.

 

·         The increase for the supervision and management cost, increased from £16.7million to £20.2million, was based on what was known about what was actually happening in various service areas. In the current year the number was artificially low as there were a number of vacant posts that contributed to this.  An assumption was then added around the forthcoming pay award.  There were a high number of posts vacant currently, whereas the budget for next year was based on a full establishment.  There would be reconciliation exercise at the end of the year based on actual vacancy figures and spend.

 

·         Some posts were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29