F Williamson provided Members with an updated of the HRA Business Plans and explained the issues and assumptions, which required consideration, including the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The report is to update members of the Housing and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the content of the Business Plan and assumptions that have been made in the financial model, investment strategy and the ongoing development pipeline.
F Williamson was happy to take questions on the report.
Cllr Mahmood asked for clarity, we talked about climate change and the money that comes from the HRA, do we invest it back into properties. He asked if that is where we would got a lot of our money from for climate change and carbon, or will this come from somewhere else. Apart from grants?
F Williamson said that we have made provision within the business plan for capital investment in the current stock and as well as the component replacement. There is provision for energy efficiency measures and also for building safety bill as we know each of these will have financial implications.
She said that we may benefit from money that is not currently within the forecast within this business plan i.e. external funding that we may receive. They have secured some grant funding through the Greater South Eastern Energy Hub and are awaiting clarification of when this will be received.
F Williamson said that the Affordable Homes programme, the new affordable homes grant scheme which is administered by homes England will open in April and that will run from 2021-2026 and provide us with the opportunity to make bids for grant funding to supplement the new build programme.
Cllr Mahmood asked if we are looking at digitalising the housing market and managing the risks, he said he has been doing a lot of work on this and doesn’t see it happening in the housing department, yet it’s happening in the construction industry and suggests it’s something worth looking at for the future.
F Williamson said that they have been looking at building information modelling for the new build, so they can have 3D models. In terms of data they have been looking at power BI and considering other suitable technology that can be used to support the data we hold on the stock.
Cllr England thanked F Williamson for the report and said when do you think we will begin to see the component in the HRA Business plan, which shows how we are trying to drive some of these projects to increase insulation and put new systems into properties.
F Williamson said that the focus for next financial year is a couple of the sheltered schemes and some additional loft and external insulation. Once the full programme is identified, she is happy to share that with Members.
Cllr England asked if she was ready to get good positive communications on these initiatives. He said that it is vital that we need to prime people to take the climate change seriously. We need to show people how it works with the schemes and get people excited. He added to that saying, he is only too happy to support this.
Cllr Griffiths welcomed Cllr England’s suggestion about pushing this out. She has highlighted over the years the scheme that have been running and the energy that has been reducing.
She explained to members about a government backed scheme where she got her walls insulated for free and said that this is something a private home owner might take up.
She added that any communication, we should shout about what we are doing and encourage others to do it.
Cllr England said it might be a good idea to re visit some of the key things that have been milestones. He added that it’s also important that the council channels pick those up to.