East Dunbartonshire agrees £20m housing capital budget
East Dunbartonshire Council has agreed a £20.82 million housing capital budget for 2022/23 at its Special Council Meeting last week.
Taking account of employee, property and operating costs, central support and debt charges to support the housing capital investment programme, the income required from housing rent for the budget was £15.12m.
Joint council leader Vaughan Moody said: “Mindful of the challenging financial impact of COVID-19 on our communities, we have been able to keep our rent increases considerably below the current rate of inflation at just 2.5% which equates to the average weekly rent over a 48 week period of just £2.13p. This is below our average benchmarking comparisons and is largely supported by our tenants.
“We are continuing our £100k Hardship Fund to support those whose tenancies are at risk due to financial hardship. And there was also agreement to a further £100k hardship for those in homeless accommodation also facing financial hardship. This builds on our ongoing commitment to support the most vulnerable in our communities and tackle financial deprivation and poverty.”
The housing capital budget includes:
- £7.31m investment in existing council houses to meet quality and energy efficiency standards
- £7.91m on the development of new affordable housing through our Affordable Housing Investment Programme
- £2.05m to fund purchasing new homes using turnkey arrangements from developers
- £3.2m to fund purchasing properties from the open market.
The five-year capital overview to March 2027 highlights over £138m of investment across current improvements, new builds and new purchases.
Joint council leader Andrew Polson said: “Our capital programme - both for 2022/23 and the five years to March 2027 - demonstrates our commitment to continually improving our current housing stock, ensuring it meets both quality and energy efficiency standards. It also sees substantial investment to expand our housing stock through both new builds and a range of purchase schemes to help meet our ever increasing demand.
“Overall we have delivered a housing budget that recognises our current and future need. Our revenue and capital investment priorities demonstrates a balanced budget for the year ahead and takes account of the truly challenging circumstances our tenants continue to face.”
The decision follows the council’s approval of its General Revenue Budget for 2022/23 and its revised 10-year Capital Investment Plan for the area.
With estimated revenue expenditure of £293.23m and income of £286.28m, decisions were taken to close the financial gap of £6.97m.
A Council Tax increase of 3% was agreed, contributing an additional £1.99m towards the deficit. The residual gap will be closed through the use of reserves in the first instance, through financial flexibilities and a refreshed organisational transformation programme later in the year.
Mr Polson explained: “We have balanced the books despite a poor financial settlement for local government yet again this year, which is bitterly disappointing after a second year of global pandemic and the associated additional financial burdens. No funding was provided by Scottish Government to deliver a Council Tax freeze, and we had no choice but to increase our Council Tax rates.
“Our 3% increase is well below the current rate of inflation and is a balance between generating the additional income we need, and ensuring we do not place too high a burden on our residents. Mindful of financial circumstances we have agreed not to increase our other fees and charges, which remain frozen for this coming year.”
The revised 10-year capital programme will see:
- A new ASN school and Community Sports Complex in Kirkintilloch
- The replacement Allander Leisure Centre and new Boclair Academy in Bearsden
- A new Balmuildy Primary School in Bishopbriggs
- Fully refurbished Bearsden, Milngavie and Westerton Primary Schools
- A canal-side Outdoor Education Centre in Twechar
- Commitment to a new £80m Lenzie Academy complete with community and early years facilities
Mr Moody said: “Our ambitious capital budget sees investment of over £96m for 2022/23. This and future year funding will deliver state of the art facilities throughout the whole area.”
He added: “Our capital programme reflects our vision and ambition for East Dunbartonshire, delivering significant benefits to all of our communities.
“Despite the ongoing challenging circumstance, we believe that our revenue and capital budget decisions truly offer the best possible outcomes for the people of East Dunbartonshire for the year ahead.”