Agenda item

Housing Revenue Account - Rent Setting and Budgets 2024/25


The report presented set out the base budget position for 2024/25 following the review and update of the 30-year Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan. The Business Plan was a statutory requirement used to assess the ongoing financial viability of the HRA and its ability to deliver the Council’s housing priorities.


The following points were raised:


·       Member fundamentally stated his objection to the increase and would not be supporting the recommendation increase to 7.7%. Member stated this was an unfair increase.

·       Member referred to table 6 of the report, tower block refurbishment, member assumed this would not include the three blocks at Blackshots, six blocks in Grays, which only left Chadwell and Tilbury and questioned what the plans were in spending £12.5 million pounds on those blocks.

·       Member referred to the six blocks in Grays, questioned why the monies for the project had not been ringfenced and put to one side for the scheduled completion of the project. Member also questioned why money was still being banked for a project which should have been finished two years ago.

·       Member referred to table 1 of the report, operational services, and table 8, management and strategy, stated he had looked at the breakdown of such costs but felt uncomfortable on the proposed increase in rents and questioned how the council compared with other local authorities.

·       Member also questioned whether any best value inspections or benchmarking exercises had been undertaken by the council.

·       Members requested a more detailed breakdown of management and strategy costs, officers agreed to share with all members as part of a further HRA report. Action 19

·       Member referred to page 7, Blackshots decant officer and Blackshots health and safety, to which officers confirmed this was the external company used as independent advisor to provide advice and to guide residents through the process.

·       Member referred to garages and stated that income taken for rents should be put back into the upkeep of garages.

·       Member referred to table 2, utilities increase, and raised her concerns on what that covered.

·       Member stated service charge notices should not be sent out to residents who do not pay for them.

·       The Chair stated he was pleased the £1.5 million surplus was going into reserves.

·       The Chair asked for reassures that across the authority, not just in housing, with concerns of the direction of inflation, that reserves would go in the confirmed direction of travel.

·       Member questioned whether consideration had been given on the new legislation on damp and mould and any potential liability.

·       Member stated her concerns that the increase was unfair and way over the top based on the cost-of-living crisis.

·       Member referred to table 6, transforming homes, and asked for some clarification on the aims and targets for the coming year, as to what work was projected and expected completion times.

·       Member referred to table 6, fire safety works, and asked for some clarification on the £1 million being spent, member stated he assumed this was to bring those properties to fire safety standard which seemed to be a lot of money.

·       Member raised concern on how the increase would be managed next year and how difficult this would be for members to explain the increase to residents.

·       Members noted the council had to manage the budget as best and as prudently as possible and thanked officers for all their explanations this evening.

·       Member raised concern that not enough had been undertaken to reduce some of the figures within the report, the council needed to be more proactive and possibly cutting back on some items.

·       The Chair summed up by noting as all the recommendations were for commenting, the minutes from this meeting should be forwarded to Cabinet for their information. Officer agreed to include a reference to these minutes in his cabinet report.




Action 19 - Housing finance team to produce a more detailed breakdown of the management and strategy costs within the HRA.




1.       The Committee commented on the proposed changes in the base budget for 2024/25 (as set out in Table 1).


2.       The Committee commented on the proposed increase in domestic rent charges of 7.7%, in line with the 30-year HRA business plan, to be implemented from 1 April 2024.


3.       The Committee commented on the proposed increase in service charges to reflect the cost of running each service in line with the budget estimate from 1 April 2024.


4.       The Committee commented on the proposed charges for garage rents (para 3.12) to be implemented from 1 April 2024.


5.       The Committee commented on the proposed increase in Travellers sites rent (para 3.13) to be implemented from 1 April 2024.

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