Rent setting session with tenants from sheltered and general purpose housing.
We held two sessions on 17th December (Sheltered housing) and 18th December (general-purpose housing) to inform tenants of the proposed rent and service charges for 2019/20.
2019/20 is the final year of the Government’s 1% rent reduction. The service charge element will have increased in line with the cost of providing the service.
Below are some of the questions asked by SBC tenants.
1. There was a request for a detailed breakdown on the cost of service charges to be included on rent cards and statements. Mike Ash, Head of Housing, responded to say that we would look at a better way of setting these out. Mike acknowledged that the breakdown needs to be more transparent.
2. What is SBC’s position on lifting the borrowing cap and will it result in more council housing? Karl Read, Finance Manager and Housing, replied that the policy would be to look at each proposed housing development to establish if the rents over a thirty-year period (the length of the SBC Housing Business Plan) would cover the cost of providing the development.
3. Could SBC Housing repay less debt (on existing borrowing)? The response was that:
Some of the monies received from the sale of council properties (right-to-buy) has to legally be paid to Central Government – this is where some of the debt originates.The overall amount of debt is relatively small in comparison to the total amount of assets that SBC Housing holds, currently about £1.3 billion.
4. What percentage of rents and service charges go towards paying for Sheltered Housing Officers? Please refer to the presentation slides, which show that over half of total costs are related to salaries.
5. Increases to service charges for Sheltered Housing are necessary because of the rising cost of providing the service; the cost of the service is divided across the total number of tenancies to ensure that all tenants pay the same price for this service. This enables SBC to keep the cost as low as we can.
6. TASH (Tenants Association for Sheltered Housing) raised concerns regarding future service provision in the sheltered housing schemes. It was agreed that their next meeting to be held on 28th January would discuss this particular issue. If you live in sheltered housing, please contact Paul if you would like to attend.
7. Mike Ash was pleased to confirm that these proposals would balance the Housing Revenue Account without having to use any reserves. When questioned on staff redundancies he confirmed that there were no immediate plans although where staff vacancies occur, efficiencies are reviewed to enable a more cost effective service to be delivered for tenants.
If you have any questions on your rent for 2019/20 please contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer – you can find their details on www.swindon.gov.uk If you have any questions regarding TASH please contact Paul Wilkins on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01793 463777.