Council to set housing budget

Councillors will meet today (Tuesday) to set the council’s housing revenue budget, including rents and charges for the coming year.

The Housing Revenue Account business plan is a strategic document for the service and councillors will learn that at the most recent review in 2012 there should be 300 additional new homes built over the next six years in Aberdeenshire.

The report to councillors also highlights that the service is exceeding Scottish Housing Quality Standard targets in the condition of its existing housing stock.

Councillors will be asked to support a recommendation to increase council house rents by an average of £2.59 a week, supported via consultation with tenants as well as a clear recommendation from the Housing and Social Work Committee.This should ensure that Aberdeenshire rents continue to be below the Scottish average. It is proposed that rents increase by 4.5% in 2013/14 to 2015/16.

Councillors will be asked to approve a range of other charges including sheltered housing property charges, heating and lighting, garage rents and temporary accommodation.

In 2013/14, the proposals are: service charges in homeless temporary accommodation are recommended to be reduced by an average of 5.2%; no increase to sheltered housing charges related to energy costs; inflationary increases to the management charge of 20p per week and the service charge by 5p a week for sheltered housing; and an increase of 4.5% in respect of 2013/14 to £67.25 per week is recommended for the Greenbanks Travelling Persons Caravan Site. In addition to rents and charges, the report to councillors will raise awareness to members that the Social Work and Housing Service is preparing for the impact of welfare benefit reform on vulnerable people as well as on the Housing Revenue Account and wider service and council processes.

The report advises members that from April 2013, with the introduction of the Social Housing Size Criteria around 840 tenants in social housing will be affected by the changes.