Tenants being asked to help select which services will be cut to help plug funding gap

Luminus, Huntingdon,

Luminus, Huntingdon, - Credit: Archant

Housing association tenants across Huntingdonshire have been asked which community services should be cut to plug a £10 million drop in income.

Dr Chan Abraham

Dr Chan Abraham - Credit: Archant

Luminus has carried out a district-wide consultation to gain feedback from its tenants whose views will help to decide what non-statutory spending – which could include a tenant’s community bus service and help for the elderly – should be cut from its budget.

The plans, are in fact, a response to the Government’s summer budget announcement to reduce social housing rent by one per cent for each of the next four years, which means Luminus will see its income reduced by £10m.

George Osborne told The Commons in July: “This will be a welcome cut in rent for those tenants who pay it and I’m confident that housing associations and other landlords in the social sector will be able to play their part and deliver the efficiency savings needed.”

However, the plans, which Luminus admit took them by surprise, have been described as a “big price for a small rent cut” and Luminus has expressed its disappointment.

In a statement, Luminus told The Hunts Post: “What sounds like good news is actually the opposite, since Luminus will have to reduce services to tenants to cover the £10 million of lost income. Since March 2000, when Luminus bought Huntingdonshire District Council’s housing stock for £65million, rents have been kept low, reducing the need for benefits and public money. Luminus’ investment in people’s homes is now approaching £200 million.

“What this means is that Luminus has actually kept the welfare bill lower than it would otherwise have been. There has been less taxpayers’ money spent on housing benefit, and the wide-ranging work of Luminus over the past 16 years has helped local authorities, the NHS, education, the police and fire service to make savings on expenditure in things like anti-social behaviour, older people having to stay in hospital, better homes in which children can study, in active citizenship schemes and fire safety. It is very disappointing that the government has not taken this into account in requiring the company to cut back on services to communities.”

Most Read

Luminus group chief executive, Dr Chan Abraham, added: “Luminus has no choice other than to reduce non-statutory spending on people’s homes and services, but wants to do this in a balanced and sensitive way. To make sure of this, we consulted a large number of tenants on their priorities at our Residents Conference on January 30 and their views will help shape our financial plans.

Working with our tenants and partners, Luminus will continue to seek to provide a secure and sustainable future for our tenants, a great place to work for our staff, active partnerships with others and continue to build much-needed new homes.”

Luminus, which has 7,500 homes and 10,000 tenants (tenants refers to number of named tenancy holders so occupancy numbers are far greater), included the following services, which are all currently carried out without state funding, in the consultation.

Gardening and redecoration services for older people; Out and About Service; welfare and benefits advice; fire safety education; Neighbourhood Wardens; non essential repairs and active citizenship.