The Committee received a report from the Asset Strategy Manager regarding a proposal on how to translate the additional budgets agreed following the Big Housing Conversation consultation into deliverable services and programmes of work to deliver the changes envisaged.
Members of the Board were advised that –
The Investment Plan had been considered as part of the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan (HRA BP) review within the Big Housing Conversation: Investing in Council Homes. The feedback had influenced the proposals to improve standards in existing council homes and the HRA BP Cabinet report had proposed investment in:
1. Energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions: an additional £80m to make homes more energy efficient and to reduce carbon emissions, through further wall insulation schemes and a programme of photo-voltaic (PV) panel installations. This would ensure all homes reached a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of C by 2030.
2. Bathroom modernisation programme: £12.5m to commence a five-year bathroom replacement programme that would deliver 5500 modern new bathrooms in council homes by 2027.
3. Investing in communal areas, blocks, and estates: add £0.5m to the 2022/23 budget, and in total £8.7m over 5-years, to improve standards in communal areas, blocks, and estates. This would help address known issues with anti-social behaviour and further work would be undertaken to determine how best to utilise this.
The Board were further informed that -
4. Rent rises were being used to fund additional investment in homes.
5. There would be new programmes for bathroom, energy efficiency in blocks, communal areas and estates.
6. The planned improvements in energy efficiency would include pilots and bidding for Government funding.
7. For communal areas there would be an additional £0.5m focussed on improving the look and feel of estates. It was suggested that for year 1 there would be a rapid response service, assisted garden scheme, increased provision for Neighbourhood Improvement Bids and Environmental Improvement Bids.
8. Residents would be engaged for ideas regarding spending on improving blocks, communal areas, and estates from 2023/24. This would include looking at the cities ecological crisis and improving biodiversity and options for more frequent communal decoration.
9. Bathroom replacement would be a 5-year programme, and there would be reviewed information about which properties had more recent bathroom replacements, it was estimated that 75% would need a new bathroom over the next 15 years. Budget to be £0.5m for this year, then £3m per year.
10. Issues such as making bathrooms more accessible would be fully considered and a resident group would be set up to help to co-design the new specification and design of bathrooms.
For each of the areas, lower budgets had been agreed for Year One (22/23) to allow time to engage tenants, research, analyse data and develop strategies for larger programmes of work.
Key points made were –
The Business Innovation Manager said the officers would reflect on the points made and look at them in more detail. Reference made about Halston Drive would be dealt with outside of the HMB meeting. Action
The Director for Homes and Landlord Services agreed to raise comments made directly with Goram Homes and where appropriate work more closely with them. Action
Another member referenced work to Northfield House and new windows not being fitted properly giving examples of 3–4-millimetre gaps which led to significant drafts. This had been raised with Response and Repair team but apparently no action had been taken.
The Business Innovation Manager agreed to take this up outside of the meeting.
The HMB were introduced to the Head of Service for Response and Repairs (Craig Cook) who explained some of the complexities involved with this work but assured the Board all that could be done to improve outcomes would be done but emphasised that quality of work would not be compromised to achieve estimated work timescales.
A member expressed concern about the slow pace for bathroom replacements despite being in the 30-year business plan, although acknowledged this was now was part of the current proposals. Also referred to photovoltaic (PV) roof panels and heat pumps being fitted as part of Green Capital and to dovetail with the City’s One Plan on carbon reduction commitment. It was requested that yearly and monthly surveyor reports, including costs, be made available so that members could closely monitor progress of work.
The Director for Homes and Landlord Services emphasised that such level of detail would not be practical and that there were already surveyor reports done on work progress. Regarding bathroom replacements this would be a rolling programme of work and where possible could include PV panels and heat pumps, although specifically that some properties would not be suitable for PV panels. Noted that current funding was too low to achieve all carbon reduction ambitions and that imaginative methods of increasing funding would need to be explored, this could include liaising with Homes England, Core Cities, other local authorities to proactively lobby central government for more funds.
Members were informed that the Council had recently signed off £1.8 billion over the next 30 years. There would be no more unrealistic promises made and where it was found work could not be achieved as planned it was essential to explain to tenants why this was the case, so there was clarity. Further to this the need for far greater tenant participation was crucial to ongoing work as funding for it was coming from rent payments and this made it even more important that tenants shared their views as they were the people who would have to live with the improvements.
Resolved – That the paper and the comments made be noted.