Cash to be spread more fairly through Rotherham communities in spending review

A shake-up in the way some of the cash gathered in rents from council homes is pumped back into communities in Rotherham, to update arrangements which date back around two decades.

By The Star Newsroom
Tuesday, 12 March, 2019, 14:36
The tops of houses

The town has seven Area Housing Panels, which are awarded money from the council to spend on their ‘patch’ each year, putting around £29,000 back into an area covering three council wards.

But the boundaries of the panels no longer tie up with other council bodies so new measures are being planned to update the system.

The council is adopting new ward boundaries and a slight reduction overall from 2020 and a full review of how the panels will operate after that point is still under consultation.

But instead of having one global budget, money will be allocated to each ward in the meantime, to try to ensure a fair spread of cash.

Members of the council’s scrutiny board, who heard details of the proposals from Cabinet member for housing, Coun Dominic Beck, were told the assumption had been that if one area benefitted from big spending one year, it would balance out over time.

“One ward might get quite a lot of money spent on it, to the detriment of other wards,” he said.

“The hope is over a number of years it will balance itself out. On some occasions it does and, bluntly, on some occasions it doesn’t.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

It is expected each ward will now get a basic budget of £8,000, but those with a high density of local authority homes will have a top-up, in recognition of the fact the money is generated from the rents those tenants pay.

The way the panels operate also varies across the borough, with ward councillors not involved in some areas.

The hope is that new arrangements will change that, with a system that involves residents, councillors and others who have an interest in improving communities in future.

A dialogue is still under way with those already involved in the panels.

Coun Beck stressed the aim was to ensure they remained involved: “We still want to make sure the tenants’ voice is at the heart of what we do.

“We have a very good way of working with tenants and don’t want to lose that by having good intentions, but not fully taking on their views,” he said.

A new report is expected later to explain the proposed workings of the system from 2020 onwards and the scrutiny board have requested they are kept updated.