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Reduced rental income shapes Colchester housing services

22 March 2018

Government imposed rent reduction since 2016 is reducing the amount of rental income local authority housing providers can collect, altering the way which Colchester Borough Homes (CBH) who manage properties on behalf of Colchester Borough Council (CBC) carries out repairs and maintenance to properties, from 1 April 2018. 

Rent reductions introduced by the Government under the Housing and Planning Act, means councils must reduce the amount they charge tenants for renting houses and flats by one per cent a year, over four consecutive years, until April 2020. 

As a consequence, all local authority housing providers, including CBC, will have less income available to manage, repair, and improve their housing stock over the coming years. 

In Colchester, savings of £13 million are required to balance the lower rental income CBC is expected to receive until 2020. 

To address the income gap with the least possible impact on services provided to its tenants, CBC and CBH have been working to minimise the impact of this income gap on tenants. This has involved assessing what savings could be made and which services which were most important to residents. 

As a result of this exercise, a number of changes to CBH's maintenance and repairs services have been recommended in line with the Council's 2018/19 Budget. On 21 February, Full Council approved to invest £9.188 million in housing over the coming year -- some £2.672 million less than was originally expected to be spent in that period. 

These revised spending figures reflect the changes proposed by the Housing Futures Programme, which aim to deliver savings while protecting the highest-priority services from the overall impact of the national rent reduction. 

While core services for residents, such as emergency repairs and safety work, will remain unaffected, tenants and leaseholders will begin to notice changes to the way some property services and improvements are carried out after 1 April. 

Gareth Mitchell, Chief Executive of Colchester Borough Homes, added: "The welfare of all of the Council's tenants and leaseholders remains our top priority. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect and improve the quality of life of our tenants and maintain the best possible services for all of our customers, despite the reductions in rental income we can expect over the next few years."