Blueprint for the future of social housing approved » Babergh Mid Suffolk
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have approved their blueprint for the future of social housing. It will ensure that our tenants have good quality and sustainable homes, in safe neighbourhoods.
This week, both councils approved the new Housing Revenue Account (HRA) 30-year business plan, which sets out the long-term priorities, plans and actions for council housing.
Babergh District Council maintains more than 4,000 council properties for tenants, while Mid Suffolk has 3,745 properties within its council stock. However, demand continues to outstrip social housing availability. There are a further 798 households on the waiting list in Babergh, and 581 households in Mid Suffolk.
The business plan outlines how the councils will invest more than £30m in improving existing homes, to ensure they are energy efficient. This supports the councils’ commitment to tackle climate change, as well as deliver new homes that provide good quality, affordable social housing for residents across the districts.
The HRA business plan sets out seven key priorities for council housing for the next five years:
Tackling and adapting to climate change
- investing in council homes to improve their overall energy efficiency, helping the environment, and reducing tenants’ energy costs
- ensuring that each property possible has a minimum of an energy efficient C rating by 2030 through a £30m retrofit programme (£16m in Babergh and £14.5m in Mid Suffolk)
Developing new council housing
- aiming to build/acquire 65 new homes in each district per year, for each of the next six years
Investing in current homes
- improving the quality of existing homes and communal areas.
Involving tenants in the running of the housing service
- putting tenants at the heart of decision-making and ensuring they have a say in shaping housing provision and the service they receive
Improving services for tenants
- learning from every complaint and aiming to exceed the new Regulatory Framework and Standards
Improving the neighbourhoods that we manage
- improving existing parking provision, including EV charging and improving the quality of estates through the development of a neighbourhoods strategy
Implementing digital transformation
- building tenants’ digital skills and ability, and using digital tools to put information at tenants’ fingertips whenever they need it
Babergh’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Jan Osborne, said:
“Ultimately, this is about our ability to provide safe, affordable, and decent homes, which support people’s quality of life.
“We also need to ensure that our council housing is sustainable and meets the needs for today and for future generations. Ensuring we have a robust and financially sustainable plan to deliver this has become ever more crucial since the Government’s reform of the rules governing local authority housing finance and the introduction of the self-financing system a decade ago.”
As well as looking at predicted income and expenditure, the plan also incorporates feedback from hundreds of existing tenants – from consultations carried out during 2021 and 2022.
Mid Suffolk’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Lavinia Hadingham, said:
“We need tenants to feel empowered to have their say in how their homes are managed and to ensure everyone has somewhere that they are proud to call home – so, of course it is important to seek their views and to ensure that they are at the heart of our future decision-making.
“Their feedback, together with other consultation, research, scenario testing, and design, means that we can have confidence in a plan with specific, measurable and realistic targets. We look forward to continuing to work with our tenants as we deliver these improvements.”