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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 10/07/2007
Double Glazing Programme



APPENDIX I
Waverley Borough Council

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY cOMMITTEE – 18TH JUNE 2007

EXECUTIVE – 10TH jULY 2007

Title:
DOUBLE-GLAZING PROGRAMME FOR HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT PROPERTIES

[Wards Affected : All]

Summary and purpose:

The recently elected administration has committed to providing 1,000 council homes with double-glazing over the next two years. This report, which was considered by the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 18th June, asks the Executive to consider the implications of this course of action and make resources available in order for this promise to be delivered. The Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee has commented on the proposals, and its views are set out at the end of the report. The report also notes the financial implications on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital Programme.

Environmental implications:

Double-glazing helps to reduce heat-loss, which in turn can lead to a reduction in the use of energy and a reduction in heating bills.

Social / community implications:

A programme of double-glazing will improve the look of properties, contributes to the street-scene and shows that homes are cared for – all of which add to the well-being of an area. Double-glazing also improves security and safety of homes, as well as helping to reduce energy costs to the tenant.

E-Government implications:

There are no E-Government implications arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The cost of providing 1,000 homes with double-glazing will be in the order of 3.7 million. The Council has finite resources and so it will be necessary to rework the HRA capital programme.

When providing double-glazing windows will be upgraded to provide safety glass and opening restrictors in accordance with current regulations. This should reduce the likelihood of future injuries and subsequent claims.


Context

1. The Council, as a landlord, owned 5,012 dwellings for rent (as at 31.3.07). Waverley inherited most of these properties from its predecessor authorities – Haslemere, Farnham and Godalming Town Councils and Hambledon Rural District Council.

2. The age profile of these properties is:

3. Most of the Council properties (78%) built before 1974 were constructed without double-glazing. However, according to our Asset Management records some 3,241 homes are double-glazed and a 1,769 are single glazed.

Windows and the Decent Homes Standard

4. In 2003, the Government set a challenge to local authority and housing association landlords to meet its Decent Homes Standard by 2010.

5. In summary, in order for a home to meet the Decent Homes Standard it must:

a. meet the statutory minimum standard for housing
b. be in a reasonable state of repair
Dwellings which fail to meet the criterion are those where either

one or more of the key building components (e.g. wall structure, lintels, brickwork, wall finish, roof finish, chimney, windows, external doors, central heating gas boiler) electrical systems) are old and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair; or

two or more of the other (non-key) building components (e.g. kitchen (30yrs), bathroom (40yrs), heating distribution (40yrs) are old and, because of their condition, need replacing or repair.

c. have reasonably modern facilities and services
A dwelling is considered not to meet this criterion if it lacks three or more of the following facilities:

a kitchen which is 20 years old or less
a kitchen with adequate space and layout
a bathroom which is 30 years old or less
an appropriately located bathroom and WC
adequate external noise insulation; and
adequate size and layout of common entrance areas for blocks of flats.
6. It is worth noting that the Decent Homes Standard is something of ‘a moving target’ because:

as time goes on more homes can become ‘Non-Decent’ because they continue to age, and therefore get caught by the DHS criteria (b) and (c) above;
judgement has to be exercised when determining whether an element is in ‘reasonable condition’ or needs repair or replacing;
other homes (both Decent and Non-Decent) are sold under the Right-Buy;
other Non-Decent Homes are disposed of by the Council occasionally;
Decent Homes work is being done – particularly in relation to boiler replacement; and rewiring, along with a small kitchen and bathroom replacement.

7. Furthermore, each Council has to establish its own ‘specification’ or definition of what it means as a ‘decent’ kitchen or bathroom. For example, in a kitchen – how many floor and wall cabinets; how much tiling; the quality of the sink and taps etc? - all of which have cost and budget implications.

How many of the Council’s homes meet the Decent Homes Standard?

8. The Council has carried out a stock condition survey of all its homes, which is regularly updated as works are undertaken. In terms of meeting the Decent Homes Standard the survey showed (at 31.3.07) that only 48% of the Council’s housing stock met this standard. It is also recognised that the Council is not able to meet the DHS by the Government’s target date of 2010.

Why can’t the Council meet the Decent Homes Standard?

9. Waverley inherited its Council housing from its predecessor authorities, which had a mixed record in building and maintaining their homes. The age profile of the stock also means that a large proportion of the housing stock is likely to fail the Decent Homes Standard because of the age criteria within the standard. Another factor was that when Waverley had freedom to decide rent levels, the Council tended towards a ‘low rent increase’ approach, which, in turn, meant that the Council did not raise sufficient resources to make a significant investment in maintaining and improving its housing stock. Some twenty years ago the Council began a more pro-active approach to investing in its housing stock, and during the intervening period the opportunity for the Council to make its own investment/business decisions in respect of its landlord role has been eroded by central Government.

10. As a Council landlord, Waverley is part of the national Housing Revenue Account. The Government considers Council housing to be a national resource. Each year the Government undertakes a calculation of what it believes local authorities should be spending on their homes and the income it is likely to receive – this is known as the ‘Notional HRA’, and bears little resemblance to the reality. In Waverley’s case, this calculation shows that our landlord service makes a surplus of income over expenditure of 9.5 million in 2007/08. It is this sum that the Council has to pay into the national HRA subsidy pool. Waverley receives (or in reality pays) a negative subsidy, whereas other local authorities receive a real cash subsidy from this pool. As the Council’s anticipated rental income for 2007/08 is 21.5 million, nearly 44% of the Council’s rental income is paid to the Government for redistribution elsewhere. If the Council were able to retain this money, the Council would be well able to meet the Decent Homes Standard.

11. Another source of capital funding has been made available through the sale of Council houses under the Right-to-Buy. However, in the last few years, the Government resolved that it should take a share of these capital receipts into a national pool for redistribution. As Waverley is ‘debt free’, it had previously been able to invest all of its Right-to-Buy capital receipts in improving its housing stock. This is no longer the case. Since 2004, the Government requires Councils to pay over 75% of all capital receipts arising from sales under the Right-to-Buy.

12. There is a backlog of capital works that needs to be done to the housing stock. This has been brought into sharp relief with the Government’s target that all Council’s should meet the Decent Homes Standard by 2010. In 2006, the Council agreed the approach (outlined below) to prioritising work required to its homes. The Council is therefore currently targeting its HRA capital programme as follows:

Priority 4: Low Priority (Estate improvement works; renewal of fences and gates; external security; ventilation improvements; sound insulation; unadopted road improvement; sheltered housing upgrades)

13. Over the last two years the Council’s approach to window replacement has been on a window-by-window basis when they are beyond repair. There has been no active programme of whole-house window replacement.

Double-Glazing Programme

14. A double-glazing programme would be desirable for a number of reasons:

Of the 5,010 homes owned by the Council (at the time of writing this report) 1,769 are not double-glazed;

in 2003, a survey asked tenants about their priority for improvements. This showed that 46% wanted window improvements (see Annexe 1 for more detail);

the Council has not been able to find enough revenue resources to fund a cyclical external redecoration programme for some years. Some windows are, as a result, in a particularly poor state and beyond simple redecoration and a more cost-effective long-term solution would be replacement;

double-glazing helps to improve the look of a property and the street-scene, and gives the area a cared for appearance;

double-glazing improves thermal insulation and helps to reduce heating costs (thermal insulation is a Decent Homes criterion);

provides sound insulation against external noise (insulation against external noise is a Decent Homes criterion);

double-glazing helps to improve home security; and

some double-glazing units, installed many years ago, are now coming to the end of their useful life and need replacement.

15. The proposal is that 1,000 homes should be double-glazed and there are 1,769 homes that are currently single-glazed and so it will be necessary to provide some criteria against how to determine which homes should be double-glazed. It would also be worth recognising that some tenants who would like to have their homes double-glazed might well be disappointed.

Criteria for identifying which homes are to be double-glazed

16. Officers propose using the following criteria (not in order of priority) to determine which homes should be double-glazed as part of this programme viz:

4. homes on main roads where noise is problematic;

Delivering a Window Replacement Programme

17. The value of this work exceeds the threshold and therefore requires advertisement within the Official Journal of the European Union. This has been completed and we are currently receiving expressions of interest.

18. Because of the lengthy timescales prescribed we are unlikely to be able to start work until the end of this year. In order to enable work to be started sooner we are inviting a tender from our current contractor for a limited amount of work. We are also investigating alternative methods of procurement for the main contract using consortia, which will hopefully enable an earlier start onsite. Should we require any further approvals from the Executive this will be the subject of a separate report.

Resource Implications

19. The HRA 3-year Capital Programme that is currently approved relies on the use of some 7m of housing capital receipts to be fully funded. As outlined above this does not allow for a window replacement programme but provides for the replacement, on a one-off basis, of those windows that are beyond repair.


20. At 1st April 2007, the Council had 10.3m of capital receipts available for funding the HRA capital programme. The Council can expect to receive additional resources on an annual basis from right-to-buy (RTB) sales and the sale of any other HRA assets as agreed by the Council. 21. A summary of the currently approved Capital Programme is attached at Annexe 2 with tables illustrating how this is to be funded and the possible level of resources available. Annexe 3 shows the Programme re-drafted to accommodate the double-glazing programme and the impact on resources. It will be seen that, whilst the double-glazing programme can be funded, anticipated available resources at the end of 2009/10 will allow only a very low-level Capital Programme to continue.

Conclusion

22. There are advantages of carrying out a programme of double-glazing, as outlined in paragraph 14. Whilst the Council is likely to have sufficient resources to fund such a programme it does mean that over future years there will be less resources to invest in other desirable works that contribute to the Decent Homes Standard – such as replacing kitchens and bathrooms. Expenditure on double-glazing will help reduce pressure on the revenue budget in respect of repairing and painting windows.

Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee

23. The Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been made aware that the Council would be unable to meet the Decent Homes Standard due to the Government’s financial constraints on the HRA and therefore it had to prioritise work required to its homes.

24. Members noted at Annexes 2 and 3 of the report how the current Capital Programme would need to be redrafted to accommodate the expenditure.

25. It was recognised that a judgement had to be made on how to spend scarce resources and at the same time take into account tenants’ expectations and preferences. A survey in 2003 had indicated that 46% of Council tenants wanted window improvements and tenants’ comments would be passed to the Executive following discussion of the report at the Member/Tenants Special Interest Group.

26. The Committee noted that there were not sufficient resources to double-glaze all homes and discussed the criteria to prioritise which homes should be included in the programme. The Committee endorsed the criteria but agreed that the list should be looked at as a whole, not in any particular order, and that the report be revised to reflect this.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. the Council starts a programme of double-glazing 1,000 HRA dwellings;

2. the HRA Capital Budget for 2007/08; 2008/09; and 2009/10 be redrafted as detailed at Annexes 2 and 3; and

3. officers use the criteria as set out in paragraph 16 (not in order of priority) for determining the homes that are to be double-glazed.

Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: John Swanton Telephone: 01483 - 523375

E-mail: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk





comms\executive\2007-08\023.doc