Agenda item

Housing Revenue Account - Revised Forecast 2019/20 and Budget Proposals 2020/21

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance TO FOLLOW


The Cabinet Member Finance presented the report and delivered a speech, which is attached to these minutes as an appendix.


The Conservative group leader responded that the opposition supported many things in the report, but queried whether point 3.1, which speaks in terms of moving towards a carbon-neutral housing portfolio, had a specific target in mind. The Cabinet Member Finance responded that CBH were allocating £50k in order to look at what they can and can’t do in relation to existing stock. She was unable to be specific at this point, but CBC’s stated aim is 2030. The Cabinet Member Housing added that, with both a housing crisis and a climate crisis, priorities invariably need to be balanced, but he reassured Members that Cheltenham Borough Homes’ aims were aligned with those of the council. He stressed that the council needs more support from national government, both in terms of funding and in terms of information about the planned direction of travel of housing policy.


The People Against Bureaucracy group leader thanked the Cabinet Member and officers for putting together a sound report with both social and business issues at the forefront. He asked about the 500 homes of mixed tenure which are currently planned, and stressed his support for making the new homes carbon-neutral. However, he asked whether the Cabinet Member Finance believed that the building of these houses to be carbon-neutral will impact on the number of houses delivered. The Cabinet Member Finance responded that the relevant officers will be able to respond in more detail.


One Member congratulated officers on a number of good initiatives, but queried the £900k of funding allocated to heating. He asked whether the intention was to put heat pumps in instead of boilers, citing environmental concerns and the phasing out of gas boilers. The Cabinet Member Housing clarified that there was no provider at the moment who can provide what the council needs at the desired scale, so the replacement program is currently reliant on older technology.


One Member placed on record his thanks to CBH for its socially compassionate policy approach, citing the section on non-traditional stocks, which were very relevant to his ward.


One Member added his thanks, particularly to the Head of Community Services and the Estates team for their work on the subject, especially regarding a number of difficult issues. CBH has moved efficiently and proactively to help those who are most in need. One Member echoed this praise and added that she had worked closely with CBH over the last few years, and had been impressed by how it leveraged local support and built up communities.


One Member echoed the praise for CBH and sought to place it in a different context, suggesting that CBH is the council’s partner both in name and in need. The key with the new houses is that they are affordable, something which Cheltenham currently lacks. She mentioned the Thrive program as a particular example of a successful and positive scheme.


One Member added his support for the report, observing that local authorities can play a significant role in alleviating the effects of austerity, so it is excellent to see a plan for 500 affordable homes by 2023. He praised the Cabinet Member Housing’s work and agreed that a sustainable approach is needed to ensure that benefits are felt in years to come. Another Member noted that although more technologically advanced systems can be expensive in the short term, they are of significant long-term benefit. He praised CBH’s focus on pushing these ideas forward, adding that it will help to lower their cost in the long term. One Member emphasised the national context of housing issues, noting the importance of the government in Westminster as well as broader issues like climate change. Any policy must take into account those who are worst off first.


The Cabinet Member Housing thanked members for their positive comments and put on record his thanks to the CBH board, who worked constantly with the council’s Executive Leadership Team. The Cabinet Member Finance also thanked members for their contributions to the debate, and for their positive comments.

A recorded vote was taken.


RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT


1.    the revised HRA forecast for 2019/20 be noted.

2.    the HRA budget proposals for 2020/21 (shown at Appendix 2) including a proposed rent increase of 2.7% and changes to other rents and charges as detailed within the report be approved.

3.    the HRA capital programme for 2020/21 as shown at Appendix 3 be approved.




FOR: 33 – Atherstone, Babbage, Baker, Barrell, Boyes, Britter, Brownsteen, Clucas, Coleman, Collins, Cooke, Dobie, Fisher, Flynn, Harman, Harvey, Hay, Hegenbarth, Hobley, Jeffries, Jordan, McCloskey, McKinlay, Oliver, Parsons, Payne, Savage, Seacome, Stennett, Wheeler, Whyborn, Wilkinson, Williams, Willingham.


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