Agenda item

Six-monthly report on housing

To consider the attached report by Alan Carter, Head of Strategic Housing (Cambridge City Council).


The Executive Board NOTED the report.


The Executive Board considered a report which provided an update on progress with the Housing workstream. 


Alan Carter, Head of Strategic Housing at Cambridge City Council, presented the report which outlined governance around the Housing Development Agency that had been established, together with information on schemes and anticipated numbers of new housing.  A supplementary report was also considered, setting out the latest developments with regard to affordable housing in light of radically changing national housing, planning and welfare policy. 


It was reported that the requirement for registered providers and stock retaining local authorities to reduce rents by 1% per annum each year for four years was in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill going through Parliament, with a view for the rent reductions to be implemented from April 2016.  Other government proposals, such as the extension of the Right to Buy to tenants of housing associations funded by the sale of high value Council housing, would either be introduced by Regulation or in a Housing Bill scheduled to be published in October 2015.  Mr Carter explained that the consequence for Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council was dramatic, with significant projected losses for both authorities from their long-term housing business plans. 


It was noted that the Shadow Officer Board for the Housing Development Agency had recently met for the first time.  It had concluded that a ‘soft’ approach to the establishment of the Housing Development Agency as a shared service would be favourable at this stage.  This would entail current employees remaining with their respective employers with a view to moving direct to a company model by the end of 2016.  The Officer Board had welcomed the establishment of a Member Reference Group to oversee development of the Housing Development Agency.


Discussing the target of delivering 1,000 additional affordable homes as part of the City Deal programme, Mr Carter said that officers were already confident of securing immediate schemes and pipeline schemes that would contribute to achieving this objective.  He reminded Members that Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council had their respective housing programmes in place, the County Council had its aspirations and land assets with regard to housing development, on top of the establishment of the Housing Development Agency. 


Councillor Tim Bick, Chairman of the Joint Assembly, provided the Board with an update following consideration of this report by the Assembly on 7 October 2015.  He reported that the Assembly had noted the changed environment for local authority social housing provision, together with the revised and more cautious approach to the establishment of the Housing Development Agency.  It had also requested more information in future reports, which had been agreed by officers.


Discussing the short-term risks set out in the report under paragraph 15, Members felt that the risk should be highlighted as significant in view of the consequences of the Government’s latest announcements regarding welfare reform and housing.  Mr Carter accepted these sentiments but said that the current environment was testing and stretching the thinking of officers even further to ensure sustainable delivery of affordable housing provision.


Councillor Lewis Herbert, Chairman of the Executive Board, fully supported the work and determination of officers in such difficult circumstances and the progress that had been made. 


The Executive Board NOTED the report.

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