The London Borough of Hounslow plans to invest £150m in housing over the next five years, building around 1,000 extra homes.
Cabinet members Sue Sampson and Tom Bruce presented a series of reports on housing to the Hounslow Cabinet.
They set out investment, how a collection of rents and service charges will be adjusted for 2024/25, and how these decisions meant that the overall management and planning associated with housing in Hounslow would be managed to look ahead.
Cabinet took the difficult decision to increase rents across its housing stock in the face of high inflation and rising costs over the last year, as well as the Government’s proposed settlement to local authorities, which is squeezing the budgets of councils across the capital and England.
Rents will rise by 7.7 per cent, the rate set by the central government, which is September 2023’s consumer price inflation (CPI) rate plus one per cent, to continue to provide safe and good-quality homes to tenants.
Service charges for tenants will also rise by 6.7 per cent on average, the CPI rate.
With this decision, the council could commit to the highest levels of service for all our tenants and invest well in its 16,200 housing units.
The Housing Revenue Account’s (HRA) Business Plan, which details how the council will use its income – from rent, service charges, grants, and borrowing – to best manage, maintain, and develop its housing stock, was also updated.
This is the first update since January 2023 and reflects the delivery of programmes over the last 12 months and the adverse economic conditions, including high inflation and increasing interest rates, which have led to rent and service charge rises.
The update also clearly demonstrates the council’s commitment to its ambitious housing plans, which include building 1,000 homes across the borough, investing in the quality of our estates, and improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock.
The business plan also covered Hounslow’s proposed Estate Investment Programme in capital works, which will see the council committing to investment of at least £30 million a year over the subsequent five budgets – coming to a total which could top £150 million by 2029.
These funds will be spent on core works, ensuring that homes are safe and well-maintained, and enhancement works, improving our estate across the borough and helping to decarbonise our housing stock.
Cllr Sue Sampson, cabinet member for housing management and homelessness, said: “I’m happy that we’ve committed to high levels of investment in our housing stock and to have made a long-term decision ensuring that we can plan housing improvements until practically the end of the decade.
“At the same time, we have had to make some difficult decisions for the year ahead, which will affect all our tenants.
“We’re committed to investing in our estates and ensuring we provide, safe, good-quality council homes, alongside the best possible services for our tenants.
“In order to continue to do this it is essential for us to increase the rent and some service charges in line with the amount agreed for all councils by the government.
“The vast majority of tenants will be able to apply to fully cover the additional costs through their benefits. Only a small minority of council tenants who are on higher incomes will be financially impacted.”
Cllr Tom Bruce, cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: “It’s tremendously important that we are able to commit to longer-term thinking around our responsibility for provision of current council housing and future projects in the borough.
“The update to the HRA Business Plan also strengthens the framework in which we will deliver the Estate Improvement Programme and other investment across the borough over the coming years.”
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