Cash injection to spruce up council housesBy Victoria Corbett
February 25, 2011
Wokingham will receive £5.1 million over the next four years to help improve its social housing stock.
The money for Wokingham Borough Council’s housing is part of a £1.6 billion fund for local authorities to help bring social housing up to the Government’s Decent Homes Standard, a benchmark all authorities are being asked to meet.
Wokingham is one of four councils in the south east sharing £19 million of the cash between now and 2015.
The borough pays 44 per cent, or £5.7 million, of the total rental income it receives from tenants back to the Government, and this is set to increase by £846,000 in 2011/12.
The council hopes to buy its council stock and keep all the rent it collects under plans being discussed by the Government, although it is understood the price tag would be tens of millions of pounds.
The council claims the high percentage of cash paid to the Government in rent has prevented it from being able to carry out repairs and modernisation of the housing.
The cash awards, announced last week, were given to councils which made a strong case for investment need.
Councillor David Lee, leader of the council, said: “We are delighted because the housing is still getting older and older. We are just about at a position where we might be buying the whole stock anyway.”
The Labour Government set a 2010 deadline for all council housing to be up to the Decent Homes Standard, however many areas have failed to achieve this, including Wokingham, due to lack of funds.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said: “£1.6 billion of the funding is for council homes and some 50 local authorities will benefit from this funding – allowing them to improve around 150,000 houses.
“Too many families live in non-decent accommodation, so I am pleased that so many of them will see difference due to this funding.”
The council was due to approve an increase in rent for tenants of 6.8 per cent, which will equate to an extra £5.75 for the average tenant, at a meeting on Tuesday.