Monday, 11 November 2013

Housing Investment Of Up To £7 Million To Be Considered By Councillors

Up to £7 million could be invested in a housing project in South Cambridgeshire to generate an annual income to pump back into supporting other Council services.

In a report published today (Monday 11 November), which will be presented to South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet next week, councillors are being asked to recommend plans to get a housing company off the ground with a pilot scheme and property portfolio of up to 40 homes in the next two years.

The plans could protect the Council from future reductions in government funding and meet some of the demand for good quality rental properties that are much-needed in the district.

If plans are agreed at the meeting next Tuesday, and by councillors at the meeting of Council on Thursday 28 November, a detailed business case for purchases will be carried out.

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 biggest building programme of new council houses since the 1950s, the first homes of which will be completed before Christmas.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We are determined to make sure our residents continue to receive the best possible services from us, but to do that we must be innovative. With the amount of funding from government reducing investments in projects such as this housing company can secure a significant income in the years ahead which will help support the services people rely on. Continuing the status quo is an option, but it is likely to see even more cuts having to take place.

“The plans will be debated by a meeting of Cabinet and Council before any decisions are made, but I want to stress that the company would have a public sector ethos and put our residents at the heart of everything it would do.”

The pilot project will be used to help inform future investment decisions.