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Cambridge city housing services will be refocused on people in greatest need

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Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell
Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell

Cambridge City Council announces new programme and a huge investment in new council homes

The transformation programme would deliver savings from:

A review of management and staff levels in the Housing and the Estates and Facilities services, with staff to be consulted on restructuring proposals;

Being clear about the services the council provides, and which repairs tenants are responsible for themselves;

Exploring options for sharing some housing services with other councils.

Last year, the government instructed councils to cut social housing rents by 1% annually for four years and 2017-18 will be the second year of reductions, subject to any further instructions from government. The effect of this, over the four years, will be to reduce income to the council from rents by £14.88m by 2019-20.

The council are aiming to target resources on those people in most need, to improve the efficiency of services and to make provision for savings.

Two reports published yesterday, Friday December 16, set out how the council will build at least 500 new council homes, using the £70 million granted as part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution deal, and its own Right to Buy receipts from council house sales.
The reports also describe how the council proposes to deliver £1.2million of savings from the council’s housing service for 2017-2018 and recognise the need to make further savings in future years.
Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing ,
who has put his name forward as a Labour candidate for mayor of the Combined Authority, said: “The £70m investment in new council homes made possible by the devolution deal is great news for Cambridge. It will enable us to build significant numbers of genuinely affordable homes for people in need, and tackle the housing affordability crisis.

“Whilst the devolution grant is welcome, it does not change the fact that the council faces continued pressure on its Housing Revenue Account finances and because of that we have to keep on finding new ways of being more efficient.

“Our transformation programme aims to modernise our services, make sure we can adapt to future government policy changes and to make sure we can continue delivering the really essential things that people need from us.

“Our priority remains focusing on those people who need our help the most and who are finding life tough. It’s our view that Cambridge must be a place in which everyone can live and flourish, not just the wealthy few.”

Savings are needed to ensure the council can deliver services on a reduced budget, and in the light of changes to government policy, including a requirement to reduce rents.

Other legislative changes are expected to put pressure on the housing budget, including mandatory fixed term tenancies and the proposed sale of high value assets.

Cllr Price will decide whether to approve the recommendations in both reports at Housing Scrutiny Committee on 18 January.

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