The Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Paul Gadsby, introduced the report, noting:
· This report set out an overview of council tenants’ rents and service charges, and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget proposals.
· Government policy had placed the HRA under pressure, and whilst tenants might be pleased with the 1% cap, this had substantial long-term funding impacts – representing a £40m loss to the HRA over four years – although the paper delivered the foundations to deliver against these challenges.
· The HRA remained on an adequate financial footing via its 30 year Business Plan, and further efficiencies made to reduce costs and pressures, and continuing. In addition, progress continued on major upgrades with 28,835 homes brought up to the Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS).
· The Council had undertaken substantial fire risk assessments and fire safety inspections, and these, alongside cladding tests, would continue into the future.
· The report also set out the slight overall decrease of service charge provisions.
Councillor Jackie Meldrum noted the £28m shortfall and the difficulty of running services with such cuts; however, she welcomed the new personalised service charges for certain tenants, with the potential to extend more widely to older tenants or those with health issues, similar to the sheltered housing scheme.
Christina Thompson, Acting Strategic Director for Corporate Resources, noted that the rationale for reducing service charges was the reduction in running costs of services had been passed onto tenants and leaseholders
The Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Paul Gadsby, summarised discussion noting the ongoing £2m fire testing programme; that the Council was continuously looking to maximise safety and improve its stock; and was confident that Lambeth’s properties were safe and up to standard.
1. To note the approach to setting tenant and leasehold service charges, garage, parking and supported housing charges.
2. To note the reduction in rents of 1%, as set out in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.
3. To note the October 2018 financial forecast position as detailed in paragraph 2.1.
4. To agree the proposed growth and savings for 2019/20 as set out in paragraphs 2.8 – 2.9 and Appendix 3.
5. To agree the HRA Budget for 2019/20 as set out in Appendix 4.