A massive investment in Falkirk Council’s housing stock has been agreed with £316m committed over the next five years for improvements to existing homes and provision of new additional homes.
In 2020/21 alone, over £52m will be spent on improvements to thousands of properties including £11.5m on re-roofing and roughcasting and £3.9m on replacement kitchens and bathrooms. These projects will enable the upgrade of 5,300 homes.
A further £2m will be spent on energy efficiency works with around 1,100 properties each year benefitting from new heating systems, as well as £4.5m heating upgrades to three high rise blocks.
A programme of door and window replacement will also commence in 20/21, with £12m allocated for the replacement of doors and windows in 1,500 homes.
£3.5m is allocated for estate improvements such as fences, walls and paths. A total of £3.3m will be invested to take forward renewable energy efficiency projects across priority properties. £1.1m will also be spent on improving the lifts in the Council’s high rise properties.
Also included in the five year plan will be investment that will bring 602 new homes for rent in various communities across the area. Locations include Hallglen, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Bonnybridge, Torwood, Denny, Banknock, Polmont, Langlees, Stenhousemuir and Bainsford.
Falkirk Council will continue its programme of ‘buy backs’ of former Council homes purchasing around 80 properties a year. Around 550 additional properties have been bought back to date.
Councillor Gordon Hughes, spokesperson for Housing said: “This is a significant investment across our housing estate and will benefit many tenants across the area.
“We recognise the importance of investing in our housing stock and have been increasing our housing investment programme year on year. To put this in context, this investment programme is three times the level of ten years ago and is part of a long term programme to bring all of our properties up to the Scottish Housing Quality Standard and maintain these high quality standards in the future.
“We asked our tenants their views on a range of options for a rent increase which allows us to invest and improve our tenants’ homes. We have agreed a 3% increase which will keep our rents amongst the lowest in Scotland.
“We will continue with our new build programme which is delivering more high quality homes for tenants across many communities, with 602 new builds planned over the next five years.”
The investment programme is entirely separate from the Council’s other budgets and revenue raised by housing rents and grants etc, can only be reinvested in housing programmes and no other aspect of Council services.
To help finance this significant capital investment, Council rents will increase by 3%. This is an average increase of £2.05 per week from 1 April for our 16,000 tenants, with a new average average rent of £70.46 per week. Approximately half of our tenants will be fully protected from any increase due to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit protection.
Based on 2019/20 performance indicators published by the Scottish Government, Falkirk Council had the 6th lowest rent and the 7th highest level of repairs and improvement spending per house compared to the other 25 local authority landlords in Scotland.