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Over £20 million will be invested in Clackmannanshire's Council housing during the forthcoming financial year.
The housing capital programme was agreed at today's special meeting of the Council. Councillors also agreed a rent rise increase of 4.2% for 2014/15, which will also apply to lock-up garages and garage pitch sites.
The capital investment in the year ahead includes an allowance of £2.45 million for new build Council houses to support the Government's affordable housing supply programme. This includes the development of houses on the site of the former Fairfield School in Sauchie, the completion of the development at Hallpark, Sauchie, and purchasing properties from the open market to help meet the demand from the housing waiting list.
Clackmannanshire Council's attainment of the Scottish Housing Quality Standard is currently at 94%. The door entry systems in blocks where there is mixed tenure have still to be installed with secure door entry systems that meet the Government requirements. To facilitate this, the Council is looking to provide assistance from the Government's Private Sector Housing Grant to enable owner occupiers to finance their contribution to the project.
The Clackmannanshire Standard is progressing well. The replacement of kitchens within amenity housing will complete the kitchen programme. During 2013/14 over £3 million was spent on replacement bathrooms with a projected spend of a further £5 million to replace the remaining 2,600 bathrooms over the next three years. This means all Council properties will meet the Clackmannanshire Standard.
Once bathrooms are completed, the capital investment programme will focus on:
The capital programme also includes a provision of £625,000 over the next four years to support the Council's Streetscape projects. A Tenant and Community Improvement Fund has also been created with a budget of £800,000 over the next four years, as part of the Making Clackmannanshire Better business improvement programme. This will allow councillors, tenants and housing officers to bring forward specific housing or area improvements identified during the estate walkabouts.
Councillor Les Sharp, Housing, Health and Care Convenor, said: "As expected the introduction of the under-occupation charge as part of welfare reform has resulted in an increase in the number of tenants in arrears. In the face of an unprecedented and continuing economic decline and welfare funding cuts, the Council is nonetheless managing to maintain record levels of investment in its housing stock and new build to really Make Clackmannanshire Better.
"We're mitigating some of the impact of these changes and we are seeking to improve the situation for those affected through our Discretionary Housing Payments. We've also doubled the staff we have providing money advice, who can help anyone living in Clackmannanshire who has concerns or questions about their finances.
"It is also worth noting that we will be maximising available grant funding to assist with the replacement of heating systems."