Thursday, 28 November 2013

£7M Housing Investment Gets Green Light By Councillors

District councillors have agreed a £7 million housing investment today (Thursday 28 November) in a bid to generate an annual income which would be used to support other services.

The investment would kick start a property company set up by South Cambridgeshire District Council and help meet the demand for good quality rental properties in the area.

When Cabinet members backed the plans earlier this month they said the annual income from the investment could protect the Council from future cuts in government funding and provide support for other services residents need and rely on.

At the Council meeting today councillors also agreed for a cross-party advisory group to be set up to work with the portfolio holder and feed in to the detailed business case which will be developed.

The initial investment will see the housing company get off the ground with a pilot scheme and property portfolio of up to 40 homes in the next two years.

A specialist arms-length housing company – South Cambs Limited – was registered last year to allow housing bosses to buy, build and sell properties at market prices so profits can contribute to the running of Council services.

Establishing the separate trading company will allow the Council to work within regulations which prevent local authorities from selling services to the private sector.

South Cambs Limited will operate in conjunction with the Council’s biggest building programme of new council houses for over 60 years – the first homes of which will be completed in Linton next month.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “This investment is great news for our residents as the annual income generated will be used to support other services they rely on, and protect us from some of the future cuts in funding by government. We have already driven down our costs with efficiency savings in excess of £4 million, and if we can be innovative and generate income it will reduce the need to make cuts we are working hard to avoid wherever possible.

“Councillors have a wealth of knowledge about their area and by setting up an advisory group we will be able to draw on this.”