Rents and Leases Review
Three workshops have taken place as part of the latest Rents and Leases Review. Each focussed on a topic: Rent, Leases and finally Social Value.
Rents: Still based on commercial/market value, yet many have no commercial use and market values fluctuate. Actual valuations of each site are needed. Rents and grants levels vary widely. Grant support levels pre-suppose income generation which is now uncertain for the foreseeable future. There is inconsistency in repairs and maintenance and insurance
There were some fundamental differences – for example it was stated that it was a requirement for the council to change rent – though the ‘Best Value’ guidance from central government states “Best Value…requires councils to “consider overall value, including economic, environment and social value”.
Leases: Some inconsistency as some organisations are on a commercial lease and some on the VCS lease. Unresolved maintenance challenges were an issue for many leaseholders. Short break clauses can limit opportunities for capital grants yet many buildings have low energy ratings and need updating.
Social Value: The Social Value Act 2012 was a huge opportunity to take into account social value as well as monetary value and so this development is to be welcomed . The council’s proposal is that a discount of 50% will be applied to the market rent if sufficient social value is provided. There is a risk that the monitoring of social value could become burdensome. Simple proxy measures could keep monitoring clear and straightforward.
Conclusion: This summary only scratches the surface of the three workshops. A further round of negotiations will start in the Autumn. There was a tendency to focus on the leaseholders of buildings specifically without giving due regard to the impact on the wider sector who rent space in community buildings at rates that are effectively dictated by the council’s rents and leases policy. A useful PowerPoint summarises many of the issues.