Providing someone with a safe, warm and secure home is one of the biggest interventions we can make in terms of improving life chances in Bristol. As Sir Michael Marmot set out in his review of progress on health inequalities in the UK, “good quality and affordable housing contributes to improving health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities.”
That is why the budget proposals we will put forward today put housing at the heart of what we want to invest in and deliver.
We want to invest almost £12 million in our main council budget to help us continue to deliver new homes, including affordable homes delivered through our housing company Goram Homes.
However, we know the scale of the challenge is huge and requires bold ambition to take things forward. That’s why we have also proposed investing an additional £1.8 billion over the next 30 years to deliver new council homes that the city needs. This is on top of over £3 billion we will spend over the same period to maintain and modernise the homes we already rent out to people.
This investment will come from our Housing Revenue Account – a ring-fenced fund that covers all the activity we undertake as a landlord in the city. We currently manage over 28,000 council homes across the city, as well as 1,600 garages and a small number of commercial units. We are able to use the revenue we receive through these rents to generate further investment and to fund the development of new homes, and the works we undertake to maintain tenants’ homes.
To help us decide how we should prioritise this funding we consulted over 1,400 residents through our interactive Big Housing Conversation, setting out the projected cost of projects we want to undertake, and the options available to us in terms of raising revenue and borrowing. Thank you to everyone who took part.
The result of that work is our HRA budget for the next year, a 5-year HRA capital programme, and a 30-year plan business plan. Through these we have proposed:
- Building new Council Homes – we want to quadruple our current planned development programme to deliver 2,069 council homes over the next 7 years.
- Helping residents save energy and reduce the carbon footprint of our housing stock – we are proposing an additional £80 million to make homes more energy efficient and reduce their carbon emissions. Our aim is for every home to reach a minimum EPC rating of C by 2030. Two-thirds of those who participated in the consultation were supportive of us raising rents (on average by an extra £3.34 per week for residents) in order to fund this investment.
- Renovating bathrooms – by delivering 5,500 more modern bathrooms for tenants by 2027, we would save on average 27 litres of water per person per day!
- Improving our blocks, estates and communal areas – we want all residents to be able to live in developments that are clean and safe, and where people can build a strong community. We will invest £8.7 million to improve our existing blocks, tackle anti-social behaviour, and look for opportunities to tackle the ecological emergency.
We also want to continue to help residents facing financial hardship in what could be a difficult year ahead – we will set aside up to £350,000 for council tenants in financial crisis, managed through our Local Housing Crisis Prevention Fund.
This plan will help us deliver the council housing we so badly need to tackle the crisis of affordability and supply that Bristol faces. It will help us give more families a home, giving more children the best possible start in life. And it will decarbonise homes across our city, and make our council homes safe and pleasant for residents and their families.
I hope that councillors will support this unprecedented investment when it comes to Full Council today.