Around 600 new council homes are planned for Sheffield over the next six years to help meet the demand for affordable housing.
Sheffield City Council intends to make full use of its Housing Revenue Account to deliver the maximum number of new council houses under the current borrowing rules.
This is the maximum number that could be delivered with the match funding likely to be available and will partially offset some of the housing stock losses from Right to Buy.
It is also intended to begin a planned replacement programme of kitchens, bathrooms, double glazing and door renewal in homes that have not had this work carried out over the last 10 years. This includes a commitment to tackle properties that were not improved under the Decent Homes programme by 2017. From 2015, any home which missed any work will be refurbished within 12 months of a new tenant taking on the property.
The programme will cover around 7,000 of the 12,790 properties still requiring some work by 2018 and will be funded from existing resources in the programme as well as an anticipated underspend from the Decent Homes programme.
Further support will be available to tenants affected by the recent Welfare Reform. This will benefit tenants impacted by the under occupancy rules and will benefit the Council through reduced arrears, evictions and court costs.
There will also be a commitment to extend the refurbishment of communal areas to all 12,000 low rise flats and begin feasibility and design work on the communal areas to 3,000 maisonettes.
It is intended to make flats more sustainable and a more attractive proposition to residents wishing to downsize. This will be funded by making a slower start to some lower priority elements of the investment programme over the next five years.
Council house rents in Sheffield are set to rise by an average of 6.2 per cent from April in line with the Government’s Social Rent Policy. The increase is equivalent to an average weekly rise of £4.31.
Garage rents will continue to increase in line with house rents (6.2 per cent) and the community heating service charge will increase by 3 per cent in 2014-15.
Councillor Harry Harpham, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Regeneration, said:
“It’s great to be able to announce that we will be adding around 600 homes to the Council’s housing stock. This will not only provide us with a wider range of properties to accommodate local people, but this important development programme will also give a boost to the local economy, as jobs will be created and many businesses will benefit.
Rent increases continue to be dictated by Government, but we do realise that budgets are tight at the moment, and we have kept charges down wherever possible to ease the burden.”
There will not be any increase in service charges for furnished accommodation and temporary accommodation and, until the new contract for the burglar alarm system is in place, this charge will remain the same.
These proposed changes are to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet next Wednesday (15 January) at a meeting open to the public in the Town Hall.