The Assistant Director, Resources set out in summary the outturn for 2020/2021 for West Norfolk Housing Company, West Norfolk Property Company and the interim update for Alive West Norfolk.
The Panel was informed that West Norfolk Housing Company Ltd Accounts had been audited and published to Companies House. The Company achieved a surplus after taxation of £211, 594 for the year ended 31 March 2021.
The Panel was also informed that West Norfolk Property Company Ltd draft accounts were with the Accountants for preparation. The Company had only been actively trading for four months of the year and provisionally reports a surplus after tax of £8,014.
The Assistant Director, Resources advised that Alive West Norfolk draft accounts were with the Accountants for audit which was expected to be completed in January
The Assistant Director, Housing, Regeneration and Place advised that he was a Director both West Norfolk Housing and West Norfolk Property Limited and there were also other Directors of those companies present in the room on via zoom.
The Assistant Director, Housing, Regeneration and Place provided background information as to why West Norfolk Housing and West Norfolk Limited companies were set up.
Housing Development Officer provided an overview of the performance against the broad objectives for West Norfolk Housing and West Norfolk Property Limited (a copy of the presentation is attached).
The Assistant Director Resources, Assistant Director, Housing, Regeneration and Place and the Housing Development Officer responded to questions and comments from the Panel and Members attending under Standing Order 34 in relation to both West Norfolk Housing and West Norfolk Property Limited as set out below:
· Contract with Broadland Housing Association which guaranteed a fixed income for the Borough Council.
· Role and differentiation of West Norfolk Housing and West Norfolk Property Limited.
· Right to Buy Scheme/Right to Acquire Scheme available to tenants.
· Review on governance of the council owned companies.
· Advice from tax advisers on tax efficiencies.
· Benefits of setting up the companies to provide emergency accommodation when required.
· Provision of a good standard of private rented accommodation.
· Importance of transparency when setting up the council owned companies.
· Future scrutiny role of council owned companies.
· Councillor involvement with council owned companies.
· Sustainability/regulation/assurance of West Norfolk Housing Company and objectives.
· Improvements for state of the Private Rented Sector.
In response to questions from the Chair regarding settlements received from Central Government and payment of Corporation Tax, Councillor Middleton, the Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Heritage explained that West Norfolk Housing Company was set up as a housing association not for profit which had different tax benefits associated to it than West Norfolk Property which is a limited co, which the council is the 100% shareholder due to pay its corporation tax on money earnt over course of year. If the Borough Council decided to retain the ownership of properties within the council’s assets as opposed to a different company it would still be due to pay the same rate of tax as income through revenue of that.
Councillor Mrs Dickinson, Portfolio Holder Finance added that if the council owned and operated its own housing stock as it did historically there would be a requirement to operate a housing revenue account which was complex. The Portfolio Holder for Finance commented that with the operation of properties historically there was a Right To Buy Scheme but with the regime with companies there was no such scheme.
The Assistant Director, Housing, Regeneration and Place explained that with West Norfolk Housing there was a particular technical reason for the corporation tax liability which was being addressed to limit liability. With regard to West Norfolk Property Limited the council needed to ensure that due taxes were paid and that any approach to it involved ensuring that the Borough Council minimised liability and ensure that all taxes due were paid and this was explored in the Business Plan.
Councillor Middleton, Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Heritage made an overall comment and outlined the further opportunities/benefits that the council could unlock through having the two companies.
Councillor Morley commented that it would be helpful to all Members to be provided with a decision logic tree which explained the roles and benefits of the two companies council owned companies to accompany the governance report which was endorsed by the Panel.
The Assistant Director, Resources provided clarification In response to questions from the Chair regarding corporation tax at 4.1 of the report.
In response to a question from Councillor Ryves whether the Borough Council was subject to tax if it owned house, the Assistant Director, Resources undertook to provide a respond direct to Councillor Ryves.
The Assistant Director, Resources reiterated that the Council had a Right to Buy Scheme as had been covered by the Housing Development Officer.
The Chair thanked officers for attending and providing the Panel with an interesting and informative presentation and portfolio holders for their contribution to the discussion.
RESOLVED: The Corporate Performance Panel noted the outturn for West Norfolk Housing Company, the provisional outturn for West Norfolk Property Company and the interim update for Alive West Norfolk.