Highlights from Cabinet – Tuesday 6 February

We have detailed some key highlights from the Cabinet meeting, held on Tuesday 6th February 2024.

Draft Revenue Budget 2024/25 Proposals

Members debated recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the Council’s Draft Revenue Budget 2024/25 Proposals.

Cabinet unanimously agreed that the draft Revenue Budget 2024/25 and the updated Capital Programme 2024/25 to 2028/29 be recommended to Full Council.

Members also agreed to recommend to Full Council that Council Tax for 2024/25 be increased by 2.99 per cent, which is an estimated increase of £204.56 for an average Band D property.

Changes to the current Council Tax Reduction Scheme to move to a 100 per cent funded scheme and the proposals regarding changes to council tax premiums for empty homes and second homes were also recommended to Full Council.

Cllr Ashan Jeeawon, lead member for Finance and Governance, said: “The overall financial position has improved by £442,000 since the report to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, taking the forecast drawdown from reserves down from £626,000 to £185,000.

“However, the council’s financial outlook has significantly deteriorated over the last two years due to economic uncertainty, the cost-of-living crisis, increasing demand led pressures from areas such as Temporary Accommodation, and increasing inflation.

“£3.2m of savings and efficiencies income is built into the budget and the challenge next year, and in future years, will be delivering these savings.

“We had the highest ever response to our budget consultation this year and I thank everyone who took the time to give us their views.”

Full Council will consider the budget proposals later this month and will be asked to give its approval.

New Housing Allocations Policy

Members discussed the recommendations arising from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee regarding the proposed New Housing Allocations Policy.

The New Housing Allocations Policy is a key document for council in facilitating a reduction in temporary accommodation numbers and in the prevention of homelessness.

The new policy will enable the council to be more responsive to individual needs and be more flexible, whilst continuing to be transparent about the way social housing is allocated in Rother.

The report notes that the majority of respondents to last year’s consultation were supportive of the proposed changes to the existing policy.

Members unanimously agreed to recommend that Full Council approve the new policy, and that delegated authority be allocated to the Head of Housing and Regeneration.

Cllr Terry Byrne, lead member for Digital Transformation & Customer Services, said: “This policy brings us up to date and is in tune with the need we are seeing nowadays.”

Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy

Members wereupdated on the progress of the Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy (HHRSS).

The Strategy and its action plan were developed in 2019 and a review of the action plan is reported to Members annually so that progress can be monitored.

The Head of Housing and Regeneration presented the report to members and highlighted some key points.

The council has secured 19 additional properties during 2023 to use for temporary accommodation, taking the total to 42 with a further five under offer which should be completed by March.

100 new tenancies have been secured under the Rother Tenant Finder landlord incentive scheme, and a number of new Homeless Prevention Officers have been recruited helping to increase the council’s homelessness prevention by 61 per cent.

However, the wider economic challenges over the last year such as rising inflation and the increased cost of borrowing are beginning to have a noticeable effect on the number of new affordable homes coming to the market.

Cllr Terry Byrne, lead member for Digital Transformation & Customer Services, said: “Our housing team have come up with alternative strategies, and they are thinking of ways to overcome the problem and we should applaud them.”

The current Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy is coming to an end in 2024. A new Housing Development and Enablement Strategy Task and Finish Group has been formed enabling the council to establish revised housing development objectives in a standalone strategy.

The Housing Development and Enablement Strategy will be complemented by a separate Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, the development of which is also underway.

Cabinet unanimously approved the revised Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy Improvement Plan 2024 and noted the HHRSS targets achieved for 2023.

Published: 15th February 2024

Aiimee Digital Assistant Icon

Aiimee - Rother Digital Assistant

Ask me a question!