It will cost £150million to decarbonise Stevenage's housing stock, the borough council has predicted.

The council does not yet have the cash to invest in its climate goal to bring all homes to a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C.

Cross-party councillors have agreed to a 2024/25 Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget, which sets out how the authority will spend its ringfenced cash for repairs, maintenance and new builds.

As part of the package, they approved a rent rise for the new financial year which begins in April – by 7.7 per cent.

It means the average social renter will pay £119.71 per week for their home in 2024/25, up from £111.15 this year.

“The aim of the budget is to balance the needs of the existing housing stock while allowing investment in new replacement homes for those lost under the right-to-buy system, and to meet the needs of those residents on our waiting list for a council home,” said Labour councillor Jeannette Thomas, who represents Pin Green ward and is responsible for housing in Stevenage.

“The budget includes funding for £37m in revenue and capital works to existing homes and £29m of investment in new housing stock for our residents.

“This is part of a plan over the next 10 years to improve the maintenance of our council homes, to ensure tenants have good quality, safe and sustainable homes to live in, particularly in response to the climate crisis.”

Speaking at a council meeting on Wednesday, January 24, Cllr Thomas added: “The works include the refurbishment programme for our low to medium-rise flat block.

The Comet: Cllr Jeanette ThomasCllr Jeanette Thomas (Image: Archant)

“We will consult on and commence on building safety and refurbishment works at our five high-rise flat blocks.

“Over the next three years of the council’s decent homes programme, we will install 995 new kitchens or bathrooms, 1,875 heating upgrades, 1,500 window or door upgrades, and 1,400 properties will receive works to improve their energy efficiency.”

Cllr Thomas said: “The 2024/25 budget will contribute towards the delivery of 447 new homes over the next five years.”

An authority report reveals by the end of 2024/25, taking into account right-to-buy sales, Stevenage will have lost a net 234 HRA properties since 2010/11.

Bringing all of the council’s 7,970 homes up to a decarbonised standard will cost £150m, funded through grants which housing chiefs must apply for when Westminster government pots open up.

“The business plan does not currently include the cost of decarbonising the council’s housing stock [and] this will need to be addressed in coming years,” the report notes.

The EPC scale ranges from A (best) to G (worst).

Homes closest to an A rating usually cost the least to heat and power.

The budget is set in the context of Stevenage Borough Council’s HRA Business Plan, which senior councillors agreed in November last year.

The authority agreed to plough £893m into its existing homes over the next 30 years.

This is a real-terms cut against a similar 30-year business plan agreed four years before – in 2019/20.

The authority also agreed to plough £734m into new stock over the next 30 years, an investment into 2,253 new homes.

This is up from £646m in 2019/20 – a real-terms cut taking into account inflation at an average 5.2 per cent per year over that period.