Falkirk plans £280m five-year housing investment
Around £280 million is to be invested in Falkirk Council’s housing stock over the next five years for improvements to existing homes and provision of additional homes.
In 2019/20 alone, nearly £30m will be spent on improvements to around 4,700 properties including £8m on re-roofing and roughcasting and £3.5m on replacement kitchens and bathrooms.
A further £7.7m will be spent on energy efficiency works with around 500 properties each year benefitting from new heating systems as well as heating upgrades to three high rise blocks. Further work will also be done on extending the combined heat and power systems to three additional high rise blocks.
£3.5m is allocated for estate improvements such as fences, walls and paths. A total of £1.85m will be invested to take forward solar PV installation projects. £350,000 will be spent on improving high rise lifts.
Also included in the five-year plan will be investment that will bring the council’s new build programme to a landmark 1,000 new homes with 617 new homes planned between 2019 and 2024. Locations include Hallglen, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Bonnybridge, Torwood, Denny, Banknock, Polmont and Bainsford.
Falkirk Council will continue its programme of ‘buy backs’ of former council homes purchasing around 80 properties a year.
Councillor Gordon Hughes, spokesperson for housing, said: “This is a substantial investment for thousands of tenants across many areas locally. The rent we collect and grants from various organisations allow us to keep our properties at a high standard as well as planning new homes and allowing us to buy back properties.”
He added: “We consulted widely on the levels we should set our rent at in order to allow us to help deliver these improvements and the majority felt that a rise of between 2.5% and 3.5% was appropriate.
“The investment is part of our long terms programme to bring all our properties up to the Scottish Housing Quality Standard and ensure tenants get the most from their social housing.”
The investment programme is entirely separate from the council’s other budgets and revenue raised by rents and grants etc, can only be reinvested in housing programmes and no other aspect of council services.
Council rents will increase by an average of 3.0% from 01 April for its 16,000 tenants (or an average of £1.99 per week with an average rent of £68.35 per week). Approximately half of all tenants will be fully protected from any increase due to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit protection.
A recent survey showed that 70% of tenants felt the value for money of the rent they paid was very or fairly good; 69% were very satisfied or satisfied that their rent was value for money and; 76% were either satisfied or very satisfied with Falkirk Council as their landlord.
Based on 2018/19 budget estimates, Falkirk Council had the sixth lowest rent and the seventh highest level of repairs and improvement spending per house compared to the other 25 local authority landlords in Scotland.