£230m investment in homes revealed

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Sheffield Council has unveiled plans to tackle a shortfall of almost £230 million in housing repairs.

The backlog includes £99.2m to complete Decent Homes improvements such as new windows, kitchens and bathrooms – which were supposed to have been completed in 2010.

A further £85.6m is to be spent on roof repairs, £26.3m on heating and £18.8m on electrical improvements at the city’s 42,000 council houses.

But Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for housing and council deputy leader, accepted the six-year plan came with a risk, due to a dependence on tenants paying their rent.

He fears up to 7,000 households affected by the cut in housing benefit for people with spare bedrooms – the ‘bedroom tax’ – may hit planned income.

Coun Harpham said: “It’s good news we have worked out how to cover the shortfall and invest.

“The tenants will be paying for better housing through their rent and it is obviously crucial we collect their rent. I am worried about the potential impact of the bedroom tax.”

The council’s plans depend on above-inflation rent rises, with rents going up 4.8 per cent this year.

Increases of 4.5 per cent in 2014/15, 4.8 per cent in 2015/16, 3 per cent in 2016/17 and 2.9 per cent in 2017/18 are proposed.

The plans lead to a £73.5m surplus by 2017/18.

Winnie Smith, of Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “People will struggle to pay the continued rent rises.

“Why not have a smaller surplus and keep the increases down?”