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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 21 October 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

Social Housing Grant Programme 2013-2016

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the amount of Social Housing Grant allocated to the Vale of Glamorgan Council by the Welsh Government for the provision of affordable housing in 2013/2014, the indicative forward allocations for 2014/15 and 2015/16 (which could be subject to change) and the schemes being supported.

Recommendations

1.         That the Social Housing Grant programme expenditure listed at Appendix A be noted.

2.         That the report be referred to Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee.

Reasons for Recommendations

1 - 2

Members are apprised of future affordable housing developments within the Vale of Glamorgan.

Background

2.         Social Housing Grant (SHG) is a capital grant made available by the Welsh Government to Registered Social landlords (RSLs) to provide new affordable housing for rent or for low cost home ownership.

3.         The SHG programme in Wales for 2013-14 has a budget of £52.4 million, however this budget has been top sliced to fund other housing commitments e.g. Physical Adaptation Grant and Welsh Housing Partnership funding, leaving only £35million available to develop new affordable housing schemes across Wales.

4.         In addition, an extra £20million SHG has been made available to fund the development of one and two bedroom properties to allow current social housing tenants affected by the welfare reform changes to downsize to smaller accommodation.

5.         Whilst SHG is paid to RSLs, it is incumbent on the local authority to submit and monitor quarterly Programme Delivery Plans covering a three year period from 2013 to 2016 to the Welsh Government, These show how the Authority proposes to spend the SHG allocation based on the prioritised schemes that have been identified. Each developing RSL is then responsible for the procurement and delivery of schemes in the agreed development programme.

6.         The Vale of Glamorgan Council was allocated and has already committed its grant allocation for a two year period and is awaiting progress on reserve schemes to ensure they can be delivered before further funding is committed.

7.         The three year allocation is as follows:

2013/14 £1,105,635 and £633,238 (from the additional funding to develop one & two bedroom properties)

2014/15 £1,105,635

2015/16 £1,105,635

8.         Failure by the Authority to ensure that the allocated budget for each year is spent would result in any under spend being redistributed by the Welsh Government to another local authority.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         There are currently four RSLs which are zoned by the Welsh Government to develop in the Vale of Glamorgan using SHG, Hafod Housing Association, Newydd Housing Association, Wales & West Housing Association and United Welsh Housing Association, which is able to develop supported housing only.

10.      Because of the very low settlement (3.1% of the overall budget 6th lowest in Wales) awarded to the Vale of Glamorgan over the next three years, it is imperative that the Authority ensures that schemes are prioritised appropriately to meet identified housing need and that other funding streams e.g. Section 106 Agreements and Recycled Capital Grant (held by RSLs from the sale of land or housing to tenants through the right to acquire) are maximised.

11.      In addition, following the agreement of Cabinet on 4th February 2013 (C1997) work has recently commenced on an options appraisal for land currently in the ownership of Public Sector Housing, which could assist the Authority to meet the critical demand for affordable housing in the County in the future.

12.      For the three year SHG allocation two new schemes have been brought forward and prioritised by Officers in the Housing Department based on criteria including strategic importance, housing need, deliverability, value for money and community benefits. Negotiations are also on going between the RSLs and land owners on a further nine sites. The total funding requirement for these schemes exceeds the funding allocated to the Vale of Glamorgan; however the Authority is required by Welsh Government to ensure that it over programmes its spending in order to have replacement developments if any schemes should fail or if additional SHG becomes available within the financial year.

13.      Many sites do not progress to the development stage for a number of reasons e.g. the landowner having an unrealistic expectation of the land value or a planning consideration which makes the scheme unviable. For this reason, Member consultation begins when a scheme is known to be deliverable, but before the site is progressed and a planning application is submitted. The list of reserve schemes should therefore be treated with caution, as most are in the early stages of negotiations with land owners and therefore may not be delivered.

14.      The RSLs will continue over the next two years to pursue reserve schemes and any new schemes that meet the Authority's requirements and will consider bridge funding them in order to ensure that affordable housing developments continue in the Vale of Glamorgan despite the lack of funding immediately available. A full list of identified sites, funding requirements and stages of development is available at Appendix A.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.      The Social Housing Grant is paid by the Welsh Government directly to the developing Registered Social Landlord; therefore beyond the enabling function there is no direct resource implication for the Council.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

16.      All new affordable housing developments must meet the requirements of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, which will assist in minimising the impact on climate change. In addition the proposals will help the long-term sustainability of the Vale of Glamorgan by building good quality environmentally sustainable homes that meet the needs and aspirations of tenants and residents.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

17.      There are no legal implications arising directly from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

18.      The development of additional affordable housing will have a positive benefit on the reduction of crime and disorder by providing those in housing need with the safety and security of having their own affordable home built to 'Secure by Design' standards. There will also be less opportunity for fly tipping and vandalism on developed sites.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

19.      The development of affordable housing is supportive of the Council's Equal Opportunities ethos. Examples of this include providing a safe and suitable environment for those in housing need by increasing access to good quality housing which will be built to the latest building regulations standards.  

Corporate/Service Objectives

20.      This report is consistent with the following Corporate and Service Objectives of the Council:

Corporate: Housing:

Vale of Glamorgan residents have access to affordable good quality suitable housing and housing advice and support.

Public Sector Housing:  Outcomes 1:

All citizens of the Vale have access to suitable, affordable housing options.

Policy Framework and Budget

21.      This report is consistent with the Policy Framework and Budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

22.      The Social Housing Grant Programme impacts on all areas of the Vale of Glamorgan and therefore no direct or individual ward member consultation has taken place.

Background Papers

(i)         Social Housing Grant Programme Management Guide - Welsh Government March

2011.

 

(ii)        Smaller Properties Programme - Welsh Government July 2013.

 

(iii)       Social Housing Grant Allocations 2013-2014 onwards - Welsh Government August

2013.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

23.      Housing and Public Protection.

Contact Officer

Pam Toms, Strategy & Supporting People Manager, Housing Services. (01446) 709788

Officers Consulted

Clive Teague, Head of Financial Services

Irene Thornton, Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Visible Services and Housing.