Councillors approve Housing Revenue Account for the year

Aberdeenshire Council’s Housing Revenue Account budget for 2014/15 has been approved by councillors.

Revisions to council house rent rates and charges for sheltered housing and homeless temporary accommodation were among the changes approved by elected members at the meeting of the full council on Thursday, February 13.

The council has a statutory duty for the Housing Revenue Account to be separately ring-fenced from the council’s general budget fund.

Councillors heard that the Housing Business Plan focuses priorities on maintaining the current pace of housing stock improvements, delivering much-needed affordable housing, re-modelling housing provision for particular needs and maintaining affordable rent levels.

Members agreed to a 4.5% increase in council house rent charges from April 1 this year. This is part of a three-year programme of rent uplift, introduced in April 2013, which is a key aspect of the Housing Business Plan.

The move follows detailed consultation with council house tenants in 2012, with a further public consultation on rent charges planned for next year.

Elected members also agreed to revise charges for homeless temporary accommodation, to account for changes as a result of Welfare Reform, in particular the Benefit Cap.

Addressing the meeting, chair of the council’s Social Work & Housing Committee, Councillor Karen Clark, said: “The funding of capital works from the HRA is significant and growing, with almost £19 million being spent on stock improvements in 2013-14, reflecting the level and quality of improvements to council housing.”

Buchan councillor Anne Allan, Housing and Social Work spokesperson for the SNP Group, said: “Continued investment in the council’s housing stock continues to be a high priority, reflected by the level of expenditure.

“I welcome the ability to invest to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015.

“While I know that progress is being made to meet this target, we must ensure delivery.”