Oxford City Council to invest over £50 million to retrofit and improve council houses

Greens accuse Labour of 'spinning the figures' by implying that £50m is additional spend on energy efficiency within current four-year budget. 

Says Green Councillor Craig Simmons, "The Council's own cross-party scrutiny committee picked up on this misleading figure and asked the Labour leadership to  be clearer in their communications [1] - a recommendation which seems to have been ignored. In summary, the £50m is not in our current budget, neither have the funds been allocated, nor are the timescales for this expenditure clear."

[1] Extracts from Scrutiny Budget Review Group Report

https://mycouncil.oxford.gov.uk/documents/g5657/Public%20reports%20pack%20Wednesday%2017-Feb-2021%2017.00%20Council.pdf?T=10 (pages 122 and 134)

HRA Energy Efficiency Spending (page 122)
141. Reference is given in the budget report to a spend of £50m from the HRA on energy efficiency measures over the next decade to raise the EPC ratings of Council houses, a period significantly beyond the duration of the MTFS. It is understood that this is based on the Council’s business plans for the HRA, which extend to 40 years. However, the Review Group recognises that the Council is facing and will continue to face great financial uncertainty as well as the potential for political change during that time period. This figure is, therefore, less certain, and the Review Group considers that it would be preferable that reference to it in the budget and budget report be removed, and replaced by the Council’s committed spend over the Medium Term (4 Year) Financial Strategy (MTFS) period.

Recommendation 22: That the Council removes reference to its £50m HRA spending commitment over a decade in its budget and budget report, and replaces them with its budgeted spending commitments that cover the period of the MTFS.

Response from Labour leadership (Page 134): "We are happy to clarify this. The amount for energy efficiency measures included in the HRA capital programme is £7.2 million over the 4 year period. In addition a further provisional amount of £4million has been included in 2024-25 specifically in relation to climate change reduction measures. The £50 million comment relates, as Scrutiny implies, to a longer time horizon."



18th Feb 2021

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