Key Decision identified as Telford & Wrekin Council Housing Allocation Policy, 2021 - 2026
In the Notice of Key Decisions published on 17 February 2021.
Councillor D Wright, Cabinet Member: Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure presented the report of the Director: Housing, Employment & Infrastructure.
This report introduced a draft version of the Council’s revised Housing Allocation Policy. The Policy, which was a legal requirement, enabled the Council to work with local housing associations (Registered Providers) and to influence how they allocated their properties in Telford & Wrekin. It also set the context for when the Council nominated a household in need to a housing association. The Council’s wider Housing Allocation Scheme also included its Tenancy Strategy. Housing Associations must ‘have regard to’ the Policy and Tenancy Strategy but would also have their own Allocations Policies.
The draft Policy supported the Council’s commitment to ensure that every child, young person and adult lived well in their community and the objectives set out in the Housing Strategy:
· To create sustainable, accessible, affordable and integrated communities
· To make the best use of existing homes
· To provide homes to support and empower the most vulnerable people
While the Council did not hold a stock of social housing and did not operate a Housing Register or Waiting List, it supported local residents and households who are in housing need to find a home within the borough by:
· Advising and signposting them to apply direct to a local housing association
· Being nominated to a housing association property by the Council
· Receiving advice and support from the Council’s Housing Solutions Service
· Publishing a Housing Allocation Policy
The Council’s Housing Allocation Policy was last updated in June 2015. It was timely to review this given new national legislation and imminent changes in local arrangements for accessing social housing let by a number of housing associations. These changes would also provide the opportunity to review arrangements for the nomination of households in need by the Council to a number of local housing providers. The Council and the main local providers had worked closely together on this and the development of the draft Allocation Policy.
The Policy, in line with national guidance, gave ‘reasonable preference’ for social housing to those who:
· are homeless (statutory and non-statutory)
· are living in unsatisfactory housing conditions
· are owed a duty by any housing authority
· need to move on medical or welfare grounds (including disability)
· need to move to a particular locality in the area to avoid hardship
The Council could also give additional preference to households who did not fall into these categories but had urgent housing needs, based on local circumstances. It was proposed that this would include:
· Those who would otherwise become homeless, which a planned move could prevent
· Those supported by Council homelessness prevention initiatives
· Those whose health will significantly deteriorate without a move
· Those moving on from supported or specialist accommodation
· Care leavers
· Those in adapted properties where the adaptations are no longer required
· Those needing to move to take up employment
· Households living in overcrowded accommodation
· Those who are under occupying a home which could be used to provide a home for a larger family
· Members of the armed forces and their families
An eight-week period of consultation was proposed with local partners and key stakeholders. Any significant changes to the draft Policy that arose from the consultation would be brought back to Cabinet for consideration.
The Leader of the Conservative Group queried the Council’s ability to secure housing from social housing providers. The Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure noted that the Authority had significant abilities to secure housing with its partners and that local providers often approached the Council for nominations.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat / Independent Group welcomed the document being opened for consultation. A guarantee was sought that residents would be able to access assistance via mediums other than the internet when applying for housing. The Cabinet Member stated that there would indeed be alternative ways to contact the Authority, this included a dedicated hotline and the option to write to Council if preferred.
a) The Council’s revised draft Housing Allocation Policy and Tenancy Strategy for consultation be approved.
b) An eight week period of external consultation be agreed.
c) Responsibility be delegated to the Director: Housing, Employment and Infrastructure, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport & Infrastructure to update and finalise the draft Policy & Strategy following the consultation. Any significant changes required as a result of external consultation would be brought back to Cabinet for approval before the Policy & Strategy are finalised.