The Housing Capital Investment Programme for 2023/24 to 2027/28 was approved at a meeting of West Lothian Council on Tuesday 7 February alongside the approval of the Housing Revenue Account Budget covering the same period.
Significant resources will continue to be invested in the creation and acquisition of new homes, with budgeted resources of £27.245 million from the overall investment programme. This includes the continuation of the current approved new build housing programme which aims to deliver an additional 380 new houses from 2022/23 to 2027/28. Resources for the acquisition of former council houses through the Open Market Acquisitions Scheme will continue to be incorporated into the programme, as the council continues work alongside Registered Social Landlords to expand the local housing supply. The council will continue to support applications that meet required criteria under the Scottish Government Mortgage to Rent Scheme.
£53.912 million will be invested to improve and maintain existing housing, ensuring council homes continue to meet the Scottish Quality Housing Standard (SQHS). Much of this work will involve projects designed to deliver energy efficiency measures, such as central heating replacements, external wall insulation upgrades, electrical testing and repairs. This portion of the budget will also be used to ensure a range of legislative requirements continue to be met, ensuring the safety of council homes.
£30.539 million is to be invested across fifteen individual projects over the period from 2023/24 to 2027/28. These projects will be a variety of Major Elemental Upgrades consisting of long-term maintenance work, where structural elements such as roof and external walls are beyond economical repair by routine maintenance
Planned programme works to the value of £43.687 million are anticipated to be taking place over the budget period. The works will cover a broad range of activities, including kitchens and bathroom replacements, window and door refurbishments, painting and fencing programmes.
Work, to the value of £1.520 million, will continue on general environmental improvements and external upgrading, including tenant led street improvement projects.
Although many works are of a small scale, these projects can have a substantial impact on local amenities and will be informed by council tenants and local communities.
A new five-year rent strategy for council homes and garages has also been approved by West Lothian Council as part of its Housing Revenue Account Budget. This will help ensure continued investment in council housing infrastructure, improving existing homes and creating new affordable homes.
The rent strategy proposes an annual increase of 3.5% each year from 2023/24 to 2027/28.
This decision has been informed following consultation with the tenants with vast majority of tenants who responded expressing a preference for a 3.5% per annum rent increase over the five-year period.
Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul, said: "West Lothian Council continues to invest in providing a high-quality social housing service for local people. Every penny of rent collected is invested into the delivery of affordable housing in West Lothian with the aim the availability of social housing within communities for both existing residents and future generations.
"The budget features a strong focus on increasing the energy efficiency of existing housing stock and infrastructure. This will hopefully help to reduce the energy bills of council tenants and make homes more environmentally friendly."