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Aberdeen City Council housing budget proposals approved
Budget proposals for the 2013/14 Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the Housing Capital Account were approved by Aberdeen city councillors today [Wednesday 19 December].
This enables the setting of the rent level for the financial year 2012/13, provisional rent levels for financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16, and in turn a capital programme for 2013/14 to be set as well as a provisional programme for 2014/15 and 2015/16.
In line with previous years the council sought the views of its tenants as to whether maintaining the rent policy at inflation plus 1% was still appropriate. Of the tenants who responded, 75% agreed with the continuation of the policy and 25% either disagreed or did not know.
Based on latest figures, inflation plus 1% would mean a rent increase of 4.1% for 2013/14. However, it was agreed that during the current economic climate many families would struggle with such an increase.
Work carried out by officers, based on the Bank of England forecast of inflation over the next 12 months, suggested that this level of increase over the period would be significantly above the council's requirements to maintain the housing revenue account business plan. It was therefore agreed that a rent increase of 3.6% per week be set for this financial year, which should be maintained over the next two financial years, subject to inflation remaining lower.
It was also agreed that a heating charge increase for the council's heat with rent properties will be phased in as follows:
80p per week for bedsits;
90p per week for one bedroomed dwellings;
£1.00 per week for two bedroomed dwellings;
£1.10 per week for three bedroomed dwellings.
To ensure that the council can deliver the priorities for its housing stock and tenants it was agreed that the budget includes a revenue contribution to the Housing Capital programme for 2013/14 of £21.7million.
This combined with additional borrowing means that the level of capital investment will be £47million for 2013/14 and an indicative level of £39million for 2014/15 and £38million for 2015/16.
Addressing the council chamber today, Housing and Environment Committee Convener Councillor Neil Cooney said modernisation of and investment in housing stock remained a key priority.
Cllr Cooney said during 2013 the Heating Replacement Programme will see 1,100 homes provided with new, high efficiency gas heating systems. The ongoing over-cladding project will be extended to three high-rise blocks in the Balnagask area, improving insulation and driving down energy use and fuel costs.
Elsewhere, the kitchen and bathroom modernisation programme will extend to some 1,800 properties and 340 homes will have their windows replaced.
The Convener also highlighted the council's significant commitment to continue to improve the operations and delivery of the council's homeless service.
Commenting, Cllr Cooney said: "The demand for affordable properties in the city far outstrips supply but we will continue to seek ways to enhance the availability of housing for all. This budget will go some way to achieving that.
"It is designed to raise the standards of our stock through modernisation and maintaining a sustainable investment programme. Reaching this point has been achieved through team working and I would like to thank council staff for their commitment, imagination, ingenuity and a willingness to face difficult challenges.
"Our staff are a joy to work with and we all share the belief that by working together we can improve the quality of life of our tenants. Our people deserve the best that we can provide within the bounds of affordability.
"This process is not simply about meeting needs and balancing budgets, it involves respect, dignity and social inclusion. People want to be listened to and to feel valued and respected. That budget is certainly an important step along that route. It sets an agenda for the future and it sets the tone for the future."