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    08 July, 2005

    RCT Housing (updated)

    The Echo carries details of options to be discussed by RCT Council for the future of its housing stock. These boil down to 3 - prudential borrowing by the council, which could prove expensive for tenants and council tax-payers alike; a mix of retaining some council housing but some stock transferred to a housing association;or transference of all council housing to a single housing organisation.

    The Council is obviously committed to improve the quality of housing in Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC, and has a strong commitment to delivering the best possible service to residents. However, it cannot achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard in the current circumstances, and needs to make a clear decision about the way it will find the investment needed and report to the Welsh Assembly on its plans.

    The next stage will be to consult more widely with all Members, tenants, staff and other key housing providers and carry out more detailed work on the condition of the stock, costs, and financial options in order to have a full debate about the best way forward. This will end in December 2005, when the Council will need to make a clear decision about the way it will find the investment needed and report to the Welsh Assembly on its plans. The final stage will work up that option in detail and consult with tenants and staff about their rights, rents and the improvements to the services and stock

    The two key issues are:
    1. The cost of meeting the Welsh Housing Quality Standard in RCT is currently estimated at approximately £488 million. Over a thirty year timeframe the estimated shortfall would be well in excess of £250 million. The Welsh Housing Quality Standard has to be met for all council stock by 2012. The Council does not have the core funding necessary for this investment.

    2. The Housing Revenue Account is likely to run out of reserves in 2008. If new income is not identified, significant savings and a decrease in services to tenants will be required.

    The Council would not support any reduction in services to tenants or raising rents above WAG benchmark figures.

    There are three options open to the Council to find the necessary investment.
    • To identify funds through raising rents and ‘prudential’ borrowing opportunities
    • To transfer some stock to a Registered Social Landlord(s)
    • To transfer all stock to a new Company, which may be a Community Mutual giving each tenant a share and right to vote at an AGM or EM.

    I would be keen to get people's views on this.

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