West Lothian Council to invest over £40m in housing over next year
West Lothian Council will spend over £40 million over the coming financial year to improve existing council housing and increase the number of available council properties.
The Housing Capital Investment Programme (2022-23) was approved at a council meeting yesterday alongside the approval of the Housing Revenue Account Budget for the same period. The capital programme will see nearly £25m invested to increase the social housing supply.
With the council working in conjunction with Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and partners, over 2,300 affordable homes have been delivered across West Lothian since the beginning of 2012.
By March 2023, a further 180 new homes will be completed across a range of sites and areas including 69 at West Calder, 42 homes at Livingston, and another 59 new homes will be built at Bathgate.
Resources for the acquisition of former council houses through the Open Market Acquisitions Scheme will continue to be incorporated into the programme, as the council continues to look at expanding the housing supply working RSLs.
Other elements of the budget include:
- £16m to improve and maintain existing housing, ensuring council homes continue to meet the Scottish Quality Housing Standard.
- £3.8m to support a broad range of activities including decoration and internal upgrades, window and door refurbishments, painting and fencing programmes.
- £3.6m invested in six individual major elemental upgrade projects consisting of long-term maintenance work, where structural elements such as roof and external walls are beyond economical repair by routine maintenance.
- £561,000, will continue on general environmental improvements and external upgrading, including tenant led street improvement projects. These small-scale projects will have a substantial impact on local amenities and the community.
- The council’s Community Choices, Participatory Budgeting exercise which will help local communities decide how this resource will be used.
- £7.3m to be spent on external wall insulation upgrades, central heating upgrades and asbestos removal.
A continuation of the rent increase of 3% per annum for council homes and garages has also been approved by West Lothian Council as part of its Housing Revenue Account Budget. The council said this decision has been informed following consultation with the West Lothian Tenants Panel which indicated that the majority of responses supported a 3% rent increase per annum which remains in line with the Scottish average.
Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul, said: “West Lothian Council continues to invest in providing a high-quality social housing service for local people.”
West Lothian Council has also agreed its overall Revenue Budget for next year which will see a raft of spending measures totalling over £500m invested in local services and support packages for local people.
A Council Tax increase of 3% for all bands has been approved for 2022/23.
Education will continue to see the largest single investment with £206.7m being spent within education services in West Lothian next year.
Over £126m will be invested in social policy which includes care homes, social work, care at home and care for vulnerable people.
Nearly £64.8m will be spent in operational services - which covers many vital local services such as roads, waste disposal, parks, maintenance of open spaces, flood prevention, fleet/community transport, subsidies for public transport, recycling centres, street cleansing and facilities management, which includes janitorial, cleaning and catering staff.
Key aspects of the budget include:
- investment to meet an increase in the cost of complex care for a rapidly growing elderly population
- an increase in health and social care funding, including mental health support for young people
- additional funding for food support packages delivered in partnership between third sector groups and the council via the West Lothian Food Network
- additional welfare and financial support
- funding to freeze school meal prices
- support for looked after children and vulnerable adults
- significant investment in economic packages to support growth and job creation
- additional funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund support
- investment to tackle fuel poverty
In addition to the current programme of road repair work, the council has allocated an additional £1m in essential road repairs this year.
An additional £1.5 million to support prevention work in homelessness and provide an enhanced service.
There will be significant financial support worth over £3m to support those most in need in areas such as school clothing grants, homelessness and food networks and financial support for families. Financial support for domestic abuse services, looked after children and support for personal care at home for children with a disability.
The council has also agreed a number of one-off spending packages worth over £2.2m for economic development and regeneration to support the local economy and create jobs, including support for initiatives to reduce the council’s carbon footprint.
Leader of West Lothian Council, Councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick, said: “This council will continually strive to enhance services for every single West Lothian resident.
“However, it is our priority to support people who are in greatest need and help to preserve and create jobs, and lift the economy within West Lothian, which is why we have targeted support across a wide range of measures that will help people through difficult times.
“The council provides a huge range of quality services and our investment in local services benefits every single resident in West Lothian. The council is here to support people who need extra help as well as providing statutory services.
“We strive to protect and improve our communities and local services. We believe that we have agreed the best possible budget within the resources made available to us.”