West Lothian’s Housing Investment Plan Revealed
West Lothian Council has announced it is to invest £132.982 million over the next four years with significant resources invested in the creation of new homes. How will this help to amplify the maintenance of quality standards across its housing stock?

The Housing Capital Investment Programme for 2024/25 to 2027/28 was recently approved at a meeting of West Lothian Council alongside the approval of the Housing Revenue Account Budget covering the same period.

West Lothian Council is focusing on delivering new homes 

It is said that significant resources will continue to be invested in the creation of new homes, with budgeted resources of £26.723 million from the overall investment programme.

This includes the continuation of the current approved new build housing programme which will deliver a further 112 additional new council houses, including both new build and open market acquisition additions, over the four years.

The council will continue to support applications that meet the required criteria under the Scottish Government Mortgage to Rent Scheme.

Energy efficiency measures will be implemented in the homes 

To improve and maintain existing housing, around £43.239 million will be invested. This will help to ensure that council homes continue to meet the Scottish Quality Housing Standard (SQHS).

In addition, this amount of investment will support the council in meeting a range of legislative requirements that are required to be met including aids and adaptations, fire safety, electrical safety and management of asbestos.

Statutory compliance works include projects to deliver energy efficiency measures, central heating replacements, aids and adaptations, electrical testing and repair, external wall insulation upgrades and asbestos management projects.

Also, the proposed programme includes investment to support the removal of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in council housing stock.

It is indicated from early estimates that the costs for removal and repairs for identified council properties will require a budget of £4.3 million. Provision has been included in the programme for this work.

Projects will be informed by the local community 

Approximately £25.564 million is to be invested across a total of fifteen projects over the period from 2024/25 to 2027/28.

These projects will be a variety of Major Elemental Upgrades consisting of long-term maintenance work, where structural elements such as roof and external walls are beyond economical repair by routine maintenance.

The planned programme works to the value of £35.291 million are expected to be taking place over the budget period. The works will cover a range of activities. This includes kitchen and bathroom replacements, window and door refurbishments, painting and fencing programmes.

Work to the value of £1.126 million will continue on general environmental improvements and external upgrading, including tenant-led street improvement projects.

Although many works are of a small scale, these projects can have a substantial impact on local amenities and will be informed by council tenants and local communities.

Meeting the needs of existing and future tenants is the focus 

An updated rent strategy for council homes and garages has also been approved by West Lothian Council as part of its Housing Revenue Account Budget.

This could help to ensure continued investment in council housing infrastructure, improving existing homes and creating new affordable homes.

Executive Councillor for Services for the Community, George Paul explained that this investment is fundamental to ensure that the local community’s needs are being met: “This balanced budget will see continued investment and funding of housing infrastructure, to meet the needs of existing and future tenants.

“The agreed rent increase was informed through consultation with tenants and will allow renewed investment in the Housing Capital Investment Programme, the council continues to maintain quality standards and invest in the suitability and sufficiency of its housing stock to improve the environment within communities and meet the needs of existing and future tenants across West Lothian.”

The rent strategy proposes an annual increase of 3.5 per cent annually from 2024/25 to 2027/28. This decision has been informed following consultation with the tenants with the vast majority of tenants who responded expressing a preference for a 3.5 per cent per annum rent increase over the period.

Investment like this is essential when it comes to not only meeting the demands of local communities but also helping tackle the current housing crisis, whilst also making substantial progress when it comes to the journey to net zero.