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£500m sixteen year Swansea Council programme updating 13k council houses concludes 2021

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A SIXTEEN-year programme of updating council houses in Swansea is due to conclude this year at a cost of around £500 million, but further energy efficiency upgrades might be needed afterwards.

The council has been replacing windows and doors and installing new boilers, kitchens and bathrooms in its 13,500 houses and flats to meet a Welsh housing standard by the end of 2020.

The deadline was pushed back a year due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Council chiefs expect to meet the revised 2021 deadline but could face a new programme of work afterwards.

That’s because the Welsh Government wants carbon emissions from social housing to be slashed by 95% by 2030.

A report before Swansea’s cabinet said officials were working through the details and what the implications could be for councils and housing associations.

Meanwhile, Swansea Council plans to increase council house rent by 1.5% from April 1 this year – an average rise of £1.47 per week.

Cllr Andrea Lewis, who has the housing portfolio, said it would mean average council rents of £99.64 per week compared with £136.54 in the private rental sector.

“Across Wales in terms of Welsh social landlords, this puts us 26th out of 49,” she said.

Decisions on this and other budget proposals will be finalised at a meeting of full council early next month.

If the 1.5% increase is approved, the council expects to receive just under £70 million in rent in 2021-22, nearly half of which will be ploughed back into maintenance and management costs.

The rest of the rental income will fund renovations and other housing projects – which come under capital expenditure – and borrowing costs.

Capital expenditure on council housing in 2021-22 is expected to be £59 million. A £16.9 million chunk of this is earmarked for wind and weather-proofing schemes for properties across Swansea, including the Tanycoed Road area of Clydach, Pentrechwyth, Sketty, Penyrheol and Mayhill.

Other capital expenditure will fund new council homes in Clase and West Cross.

Longer-term, major work is planned to upgrade blocks of flats on Griffith John Street and Croft Street, Dyfatty.

A masterplan is also being developed for concrete-cast properties at Heol Emrys and Tudno Place, Penlan, which is likely to involve a mix of refurbishment, new builds and possible demolitions. Planing approval would be required beforehand.

The council has a target of 1,000 new council homes from 2021 to 2031.

Cllr Lewis said: “There’s never been such a spend on housing.”

She thanked housing staff for their efforts during the months of restrictions.

Cllr Lewis added that the housing department was in the process of recruiting 17 apprentices, and was working closely with Gower College Swansea to help ensure budding builders gained the right skills for the future.

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