Please give us your views via our online rent consultation (Citizen Space) on or before 15 December 2023.
For every response submitted the Housing Service will donate £1 to The Gate Charity.
We are holding two sessions for council tenants to attend on Saturday 9 December
This is an opportunity for tenants to have a cuppa and chat with our housing service about the consultation.
If you would like to join us at either event please click on the relevant link below to book you ticket via eventbrite.
Laura's Tilly Tearoom 10A Bank Street, Tillicoultry, FK13 6DP 10am to Noon
The Ladybird Cafe 4 East Vennel, Alloa, FK10 1ED 1pm to 3pm
Every year we ask tenants to give their views on the rent they pay. The Housing Service has been developing its 30-year business plan and considering longer term budgets. We felt it was important to give our tenants more information on how their rent is being spent and also how decisions made this year will shape how rent increases look over the next five years. This is also an opportunity to show our tenants how our business plan is being developed and what the service needs to do next.
If you would like to request further information, please email email@example.com or call 01259 450000 to speak to the Housing Business Management Team.
We have been working with an external organisation called Arneil Johnston to develop our 30-year business plan. They are the largest housing consultant in Scotland and have worked with many other local authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).
This project started in June 2023. In these initial stages the housing service provided them with data so they could get a proper feel for our business, which would allow them to build a business plan. They also carried out a rent affordability assessment for us in August and more detail about this is below. The baseline business plan was then developed and since October 2023, we have carried out briefing sessions to elected members and Clackmannanshire Residents and Tenants Federation (CTRF).
We have attached the recent presentation that Arneil Johnston gave to CTRF. Some of the text below refers to the slides in the PowerPoint presentation.
In the presentation, slide numbers 12-20 talk about the work Arniel Johnston carried out on rent affordability.
To consider if our rents are affordable Arneil Johnston looked at our rent structure, what it costs to rent one of our homes and what measures should be used to assess affordability.
For the purposes of looking at affordability in Clackmannanshire Arneil Johnston have considered how they determine what is affordable. They think that households should spend no more than 30% of their disposable income on housing.
The average Clackmannanshire Council rent is on par with the average of peer local authorities. The graph on slide 14 shows that there is very little price difference between a bedsit and a four-bedroomed property. This means that our bedsit properties were more expensive compared to the peer local authorities, we looked at. However larger properties were less expensive being on average 12% below their rent charges.
On average Clackmannanshire Council’s rents are 15% lower than locally operating RSL rents with the greatest headroom in larger properties.
On slide 20 you can see that when you profile households, by considering occupants and income, most households would be devoting less than 20% of their income to paying their rent with the exception of single adult households (subject to the benefit cap) who would be at 28%. No household would breach the 30% rent to income ratio.
Our tenants should feel confident in this independent review which shows our rents are affordable.
In the presentation, slide numbers 21-34 talk about the work carried out by Arneil Johnston on the baseline business plan.
To write a business plan there are a number of things you need to consider for example:
These plans must be prudent and consider any risks.
There are many key drivers and current issues facing social housing. Some of these impacts relate to things we cannot control for example an increase in inflation, the pandemic or Brexit. All of these have an impact on businesses and public services as it then costs more to run them.
One area we considered was inflation rates. This is the speed at which the prices of goods and services bought by households rise or fall. For the purposes of our baseline plan we looked at Consumer Prices Index (CPI) which was 6.7% in September 2023.
Unlike other Council services, the housing service receives no funds from the Scottish Government for pay increase awards. This is met solely by the income we get from tenants rents.
If you look at slide 9 you can see how our expenditure is made up and our how we are funded. Once we have paid for all our costs, the money left over is called Revenue Contributions to Capital (CFCR). This helps fund our capital expenditure. If we spend more than our income on the revenue side this would then mean we would have to borrow more money to invest in our existing homes and any new build projects.
If we choose to overlook rising costs and keep rents at lower levels, without increasing them in line with inflation, this would incrementally decrease our CFCR over the next five years which would become unsustainable. You can see this on slide 33.
We plan to do a stock condition survey to ensure the information we hold on all our properties is up to date. This means we can make measured decisions on future spending to keep our housing stock in good condition.
We would like to look at how our rents are structured. As explained above there is little difference between our smallest and largest property. This is not something we would be looking to change for the upcoming rent year, however is something we want to consider in the future to ensure our rents are fair and justifiable.
Almost all of the funding for the housing service comes from tenants rents and we must balance keeping rents affordable with having enough money to spend on improving homes and services. The following paragraphs explain how tenants rent were spent in 2022/23.
Capital investment represented 30% of the expenditure. Improving our existing homes has been a key commitment for a number of years ensuring our homes are of a good standard. In 2022/23 we spent £6.4 million on capital investment for example we installed windows to 472 homes along with 147 new kitchens. We also bought back properties from the open market.
Repairing and maintaining homes represented 46% of the expenditure. Repairs are a key priority for both our tenants and us. They are one of the main reasons our tenants get in touch with us and we are constantly working hard to improve the service.
Central support represented 6% of the expenditure. Support from other Council teams makes sure housing services run well for example, finance, human resources and legal services.
Supervision and management is employee costs and this represented 15% of the expenditure. This includes the housing officers, and all the training and equipment staff need to do their jobs.
Other represented 3% of the expenditure. This is the costs for ad-hoc support costs.
Rent proposals are explained on slide numbers 35-39 in the presentation.
By developing our business plan and assessing our rent affordability we have tried to demonstrate to our tenants the basis for us considering the rent proposals for 2024/25.
We are consulting on three possible rent increase options and what these could deliver.
If the rent increase was 6.7%, in line with the baseline business plan, rent increases from 2025/26 would be CPI plus 1% for four years. If CPI was 4%, for example, then our rent increases would be 5%.
We understand that many people have been affected by the recent rising cost of living, which is why getting your feedback is so important. Understanding your views on rent will help us to balance keeping rents affordable with having enough money to spend on improving homes and services.
If you’re worried about money or having difficulty paying your rent, contact your housing officer in the first instance, who can refer you to suitable advice and support services.
Council tenants, CTRF, Council officers and Councillors work together to consult on and set your rent. Council officers carry out financial planning to set out a balanced budget. Tenants then indicate their preferences in the rent consultation, and Councillors agree the budget at their meeting in February 2024.
All of our tenants have been sent a rent consultation with a pre-paid envelope to return their responses in or responses can be compled online. It is important you have your say.
Please complete our online rent consultation by following the link. The deadline for completing the consultation is Friday 15 December 2023.
It is important to remember, no formal decisions have been made and your views will be submitted to Councillors early in 2024.
Feedback really lets us know how you feel about the housing service and identifies areas for improvement. The rent consultation is only one of the ways we try to involve our tenants in decision making.
Getting involved is open to any tenant and Clackmannanshire Resident and Tenants Federation always welcome new members.
If you’re interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the Clackmannanshire Resident and Tenants Federation at email@example.com or 01259 725757
Our HRA Financial Business Plan 2018-2023 is available to refer to.
Arneil Johnston have looked at rent affordability in a lot more detail and also provided a briefing to Clackmannanshire Tenants and Residents Federation. You can view both documents by following the link given.
Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa, FK10 1EB
Tel: 01259 450000