Council rent freeze agreed for two years
The welfare of citizens was the clear focus behind Aberdeen City Council’s Housing Revenue budget being unanimously agreed today [Wednesday 10 March].
In recognising the many challenges and difficulties people have experienced over the last year, the Housing Revenue budget aims to provide that little bit of respite to tenants by freezing all rents and fees and charges from May 3, for not just this coming financial year but for the following financial year as well.
Avoiding passing on a 4% rent increase to tenants will mean that they will save on average £170 per year for 2021/22 and £350 for the financial year 2022/23. On top of this tenants in the Council’s heat with rent scheme will save a further £20 a year through this rent freeze.
This will mean tenants can plan their finances knowing they will have no heat with rent increase, no rent increase and no council tax rise.
It is not just the cost of rent that is important to council tenants. Knowing that they live in safe and secure properties that are energy efficient is just as important. Elected members today agreed that over the next 5 years the Council will commit significant investment in its homes.
The Council has agreed to spend:
- Over £10million on large scale repairs;
- Almost £28million on replacing windows;
- Almost £11million on roof replacement and repairs;
- Almost £12million of improvements to our multi storey buildings;
- Almost £28 million on replacing heating systems;
- Almost £15million in its bathroom and kitchen programme;
- Over £20million on other energy efficient measures; and
- Over £25million of investment in safety and security measures.
This ambitious programme will see over £180million of investment in the Council’s housing stock across the city over the next 5 years.
That will form part of an investment of more than £500 million over the next 5 years when we include new council housing.
The Council launched an ambitious new build programme in 2018 to see the construction of 2,000 new houses in the city. Elected members heard that two further contracts have been signed which later this year will see 1,280 units under construction.
Despite the challenges of Covid this programme continues at pace with over 120 buy back properties already secured and an anticipated 180 further units to be acquired as they become available.
Later this year will see the next stage of delivering the 2,000 units as the Council owned land to the market to deliver a further 400 units.
Further developer led schemes are expected to come before the Council this year which will mean that the Council will have exceeded its commitment to enhance its housing stock with more than 2,000 new modern homes. The Aberdeen Gold Standard of housing will offer future tenants high-quality homes and also offers an excellent model to social housing providers up and down the country.
Elected members also heard that the Council has secured £35million of external funding towards the cost of these new houses and thanked all staff in both delivering the programme as well as securing funding.
The Council has also set aside a sum of £15million to ensure these new properties will be future proofed against anticipated building standards legislation likely to come into force over the next year or so.
These latest homes will be built to the highest energy efficient standards and will help towards the Council’s aim to be net zero in the future.
The Council’s housing plans are aligned with the Local Outcome Improvement Plan, which is shaped in consultation with communities. The Council continues to engage with tenants on its plans and works directly with them in looking after Council properties.
A year ago, the Council launched resident-led inspections in the city’s multi storey buildings. In addition to regular inspections, council tenants, private tenants and homeowners now assist the Council and the emergency services in identifying what can be done to keep buildings safe, secure and in the best condition.
Today’s budget also allocates £250,000 from the Housing Capital Programme to undertake a full option appraisal on the city centre multis to consider future development and investment opportunities.
Aberdeen City Council’s Housing spokesperson Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “The last year has been hard for us all due to the pandemic, which is why I am delighted that the Council has agreed to freeze all rents and fees and charges from May 3, not just for this coming financial year but for the following financial year too.
“As we reflect on the many challenges and difficulties people have experienced over the last year, this budget aims to provide a little bit of respite for our tenants.
“This together with the significant investment in our current housing estate and future developments means that we as a Council set a standard for others to aspire too.
“Everything we do as a Council is about the renewal of our city: economic, environmental, and social. We have to use every means at our disposal to promote that renewal and to promote the good health and wellbeing of our citizens.”