11 January 2018
Funding for around 500 extra council homes has been identified by Sheffield City Council in its council housing business plan. This forms part of the authority’s drive to increase the amount of social housing across the city and is on top of an additional 1000 homes being provided by 2020.
The council is currently working on plans for new housing schemes for older people, families and people with learning disabilities. And now it has revealed its further ambition for 500 additional council homes in the next five years.
The council’s plan also includes continued investment in existing homes with improvements planned to roofs, kitchens, bathrooms, windows and electrics.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: “I am doing everything in my power to increase the number of council houses. It’s a massive challenge as we lose around 350 properties each year through Right to Buy sales and face increasing need for social housing.
“We’ve managed our finances prudently, to allow us to deliver much needed new homes at the same time as investing in existing properties. And I want to reassure people we are doing absolutely everything we can to increase and invest in social housing in Sheffield.”
Sheffield City Council was one of a small number of organisations which, over the past year, has been lobbying the Government to change funding rules to free up money for local authorities, so they can build more council homes. This lobbying has started to change the Government’s thinking around how increases in council housing can be achieved. The authority is hoping for further announcements from the Government about this, and will continue to lobby for this.
In its annual council housing business plan, the council also includes further investment in fire safety and in June last year, the authority committed to installing sprinkler systems in its high rise tower blocks. It also intends to continue developing its new approach to housing management – Housing+ – which means more proactive support for tenants, especially vulnerable people. The business plan states that the further roll out of Universal Credit in Sheffield next year will be a particularly challenging time. It plans to work with tenants in preparation for this, ahead of the introduction in November and December.
Apprenticeships also form part of the plans. The council has recruited 60 apprentices in the Housing and Neighbourhoods service since 2015, and this will continue with recruitment in all areas of the council housing service.
A final part of the business plan is provision for national changes to council housing, coming out of the Housing & Planning Act 2016. There is considerable uncertainty around some of these and several changes have already been shelved after significant national criticism of them, including from Sheffield City Council.
Councillor Dunn added: “The Government has still not made up its mind about policies which add to the decimation of council housing. We will continue to lobby them and are managing our council housing account carefully, so we’re geared up to respond to future changes – whilst remaining focussed on the key aim of more council housing in Sheffield.”
There are just under 40,000 council homes across Sheffield. The new homes will either be new build or bought properties.