Plans have been published as part of the council’s annual review of the Housing Revenue Account business plan, working closely with tenants and residents.
Sheffield plans to reduce the rents for over 39,000 council homes in line with the national rent policy for rent-setting. As well as the rent reductions, the proposals outline how the council will deliver on its key priorities and invest in tenants homes to ensure that they are well maintained over the next 5 years.
The plans also outline a price increase of 20p per week to cover the steady increases that there have been in energy price. KWh unit prices will remain frozen at the current rate for 2019/20 though and tenants and residents are also seeing around 40% saving on their bills as a result of the smart metering scheme introduced by the council in 2014. Because of the data that smart metering provides, the council will continue supporting and advising tenants who might be worrying about switching on their heating and intervening early on if needed.
If approved at Cabinet on 16th January, the council will continue to adopt a proactive approach to managing the city’s neighbourhoods, supporting tenants affected by welfare reform changes and re-shaping the repairs service.
Tenants will also see around £400 million of investment over the next five years to make sure homes and estates are well maintained.
The investment programme will continue to prioritise and deliver improvements to kitchens, bathrooms, windows, doors, roofs and communal areas. Investment in additional fire safety works will include sprinklers, fire stopping works as well as a start on environmental works to improve our estates. Improved recycling facilities will also be introduced.
This level of investment will also create local employment opportunities over the next 5 years and many apprenticeships; of which there are 35 already.
In addition, following the Government’s announcement to lift the Housing Revenue Account Debt Cap for local authorities the business plan proposes a further increase in the city’s new build programme. This will involve building 1,600 new homes and acquiring new homes to substantially increase the number of homes and type of homes the city needs.
We know that tenants want more investment in the environment surrounding their properties in particular, so we will be working together with tenants and residents on amending existing policies and introducing new policies during the year to improve services and the quality of homes. Our focus will be on making sure that:
- Homes are safe and decent
- Thriving communities are celebrated
- Council homes are increasingly seen as a home of choice rather than a necessity
- Complaints are resolved effectively
- There is more social housing and home ownership is supported
- Residents are empowered and listened to
Overall there will be particular emphasis on keeping costs under control and exploring housing revenue account savings. This will be achieved as a result of getting better value for money on contracts and paying for the services that the council uses.
Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “We are pleased that we will be able to build more quality, safe and affordable homes as a result of the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account Cap.
“We will be working closely with tenants and leaseholders to develop our plans over the coming year to make sure that we get the balance right between improving our existing stock, improving the environment and, building the type of homes we need to meet the ever growing demand for a Council home. Despite government restrictions and reduced funding it’s pleasing to see so much positive work being done.”
”We want to build homes of the right size and type in the right places to make sure we are meeting increased demand for social rented and specialist homes in the city in the right way.
“It will be important for the Government to give councils across the country what they need so that they can build truly affordable homes for social rent.”