Agenda item - Operational Review of Allocations Plan

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Agenda item

Operational Review of Allocations Plan

Report of the Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing (copy attached).

 

Decision:

 

That the Housing & New Homes Committee:

 

(1)      Notes the performance monitoring report at appendix one of the report

 

(2)      Agrees that the percentage of properties advertised under the Allocations Plan remains as follows:

 

         Homeless 40%

         Transfers 30%

         Homeseekers 20%

         Council’s Interest (Social Services) 10%

 

(3)      Agrees to the following minor amendments to the Allocations Policy as set out

 

(i)  Band C Sheltered no other housing need – update to restrict this band reason to bids only on sheltered accommodation and not general needs.

 

(ii)  Point of clarification – award of extra bedroom as contained in appendix two paras 3.3 to 3.7

 

(iii)  3 bedroom properties with a dining room – increase minimum number of occupants to maximise occupancy level to large properties

 

(iv)   Decrease total household income in policy to

§  One bed               £22,000

§  Two bed              £32,000

§  Three bed and above £36,000

 

(v)      Increase savings cap to four months average rent

 

• One bed       £5,000

• Two bed       £7,000

• Three bed and above £8,200

 

(vi)      Increase savings cap for sheltered applicants only to £16.000

 

(vii)  Waive savings cap on extra care applications. Waiver cases can only be offered   accommodation if there are no other non-waiver case waiting for extra care

 

(viii)   Remove sheltered Panel from the sheltered assessment process

 

(ix)   Introduce new Band A – sheltered applicant with need to  move under the allocations policy within the same scheme

 

(x)      Affordability of accommodation due to the welfare benefit cap – Ability to by-pass applicant who is not able to afford accommodation.

 

(xi)     Removal of over 50s requirement in seven blocks of flats.  (not over 55 for sheltered) 

 

(xii)     Amend Band D Applicants, required to be on the Housing Register of the purpose of obtaining shared ownership. These applicants may only be assessed for the above purpose and will not receive an allocation of social housing or be nominated to a Housing Association, to include the following. Different financial caps may be applied for applications for shared ownership than those used for social /housing applications. All applications for this band will remain suspended whilst in this Band.

 

(xiii)    Change the method of increasing the income and savings from the Consumer Prices Index to the increase in average rents in the city allowing applicants 50% of income for the purpose of rent.

 

(xiv)      That the Committee receive a report, in two years’ time, setting out the performance against the allocations plan, for the period January 2017-March 2020.

 

Minutes:

25.1   The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing which informed members that a new Housing Allocations Policy for the city had been adopted in December 2016. The new policy contained a provision of an allocations plan. The current report looked at the performance of the allocations plan since it was adopted and introduced in January 2017. The report also gave an update on the implementation of the new allocations policy and recommendations for a new allocations plan for approval as required under the allocations policy. The allocations Policy provided that a new Allocations Plan would be approved by the Housing & New homes Committee on an annual basis. In addition, any deviation of more than 5% of each allocation queue was reported to committee. The report was presented by the Head of Housing Needs.  

 

25.2   Councillor Gibson referred to table 14.1 on page 117 of the report and asked for confirmation that with regard to the council’s interest queue over the period that had been monitored, there were 37 allocations in the council’s interest queue out of 948. The Head of Housing Needs confirmed that in relation to the council’s interest queue from January 2017 to March 2018, there were 37 properties that went to the council interest queue which was about 4%, which was less than the 10% target.

 

25.3   Councillor Gibson stated that there were 37 allocations whereby it ideally would have been 95 allocations if the 10% target had been met.  His understanding of the allocations plan was that the council aimed to be within 5% of the target allocations. The council were therefore not within the 5% range on the 95 the council would be seeking to achieve from the council interest queue.  The Head of Housing Needs confirmed this was correct.  

 

25.4   Councillor Gibson praised the report and appreciated a great deal of work had gone into it. There were many helpful proposals. His concern, which related to the amendment, was that there was underachievement particularly with regard to council interest. The Green Group amendment would ensure that the council would get back on track for the allocations queue. The amendment deleted the reporting period for the allocations plan. The amendment further recommended that the committee should receive a report in a year’s time setting out the performance against the allocations plan. The amendment was set out as follows:

 

         To amend the recommendations 2.3.12 and renumber the recommendations accordingly, adding a further recommendation 2.3.14, as shown below in bold italics:

 

2.3.12 Change the reporting period of the allocations plan from one year to three years.

2.3.13

2.3.12 Amend Band D Applicants, required to be on the Housing Register of the purpose of obtaining shared ownership. These applicants may only be assessed for the above purpose and will not receive an allocation of social housing or be nominated to a Housing Association, to include the following. Different financial caps may be applied for applications for shared ownership than those used for social /housing applications. All applications for this band will remain suspended whilst in this Band.

2.3.14
2.3.13 Change the method of increasing the income and savings from the Consumer Prices Index to the increase in average rents in the city allowing applicants 50% of income for the purpose of rent.

2.3.14 That the committee receive a report, in a years time, setting out the performance against the allocations plan, for the period January 2017 – March 2019”

 

25.5   The amendment was seconded by Councillor Druitt.

 

25.6   Councillor Moonan thanked officers for the report. As council lead for Adult Social Care she was particularly interested in the council’s interest queue as she was concerned that the council were not achieving the 10% that had being allocated. She had been doing some work between Adult Social Care & Housing Services to look at the barriers for the council not allocating those properties. These were a vulnerable group of people and there were barriers around people being able to maintain their tenancy. Many of these barriers had been overcome and she was confident that allocations would go up, all within the criteria set out in the allocations policy. With regard to the amendment, Councillor Moonan stressed that important action was already being taken to overcome barriers.  However, in principal, Councillor Moonan did not have a problem with the amendments. 

 

25.7   Councillor Mears noted Councillor Moonan’s comments but stressed that that there was not an Adult Social Care Committee, so there was no way of looking at the detail. Councillor Mears had recently substituted on the Health & Wellbeing Board on 11 September. There was a presentation from Adult Social Care about expanding Housing First and officers showed a slide which clearly showed how clients reached the stage where they could receive housing. The slide showed social housing as well as private rented social housing. Councillor Mears had asked what criteria was used for the local connection and had not received an answer. Housing Services clearly had a local connection of five years as agreed by the council housing policy. In the past there had been issues about Adult Social Care running their own allocation policy. It was concerning that through the Health and Wellbeing Board, Adult Social Care was using another system. They needed to report to Housing & New Homes Committee on what local connection was being used on expanding Housing First. 

 

25.8   Councillor Mears stated that the Allocations report was excellent and officers had carried out a great deal of work. With regard to transfers, she asked that it was ensured that all transfers criteria was checked to allow rebranding to homeless people if their criteria was not a transfer.

 

25.9   With regard to the amendment, Councillor Mears referred to the original 2.3.12 which stated “Change the reporting period of the allocations plan from one year to three years”. She also referred to the proposed amendment to 2.3.14 which called the committee to receive a report in a year’s time setting out the performance against the allocations plan, for the period January 2017 to March 2019. Councillor Mears had no problem with a report coming back to committee in a year, but stressed that 2.3.14 would override 2.3.12. Councillor Gibson clarified that the Green amendment would delete the original 2.3.12.  

 

25.10  The Head of Housing Needs responded to questions put by Councillor Mears. With regard to the comments on transfers, officers would pick up the issue regarding homeless people. The Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing confirmed that anyone housed in council stock from Adult Social Care had to meet the council’s allocations criteria in respect of the local connection policy which was five years.

 

25.11  Councillor Mears asked for reassurance that Adult Social Care were adhering to the housing allocation policy and were not using their own discretion around local connection. Councillor Mears asked for a response in writing.  The Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing gave her assurance.  She stressed that the most important thing to remember was that Adult Social Care did not allocate properties. The allocations were carried out by the housing allocation staff, who abided by the rules.  

 

25.12  Councillor Bell asked about the financial implications of the proposed amended new 2.3.14. Was there was any benefit to the amendment. The Head of Housing Needs confirmed that there were resource implications. Bringing a report back in one year would take up officers’ resources. Staff worked at full capacity and would have to shift other jobs around. 

 

25.13  Councillor Moonan remarked that the Housing First model was presented to the Health & Wellbeing Board and sought approval for the wrap around support that is part of the Housing First model. This effective support was for highly vulnerable homeless people and rough sleepers. They were housed first and the support was built around them. The Health and Wellbeing Board approved the wrap around support and the accommodation would be submitted to the Strategic Accommodation Board. If any were accommodated in housing stock they would meet the rest of the allocations criteria. This could be a perfect solution to a number of complex clients.

 

25.14  Councillor Gibson drew attention to an issue that some residents had raised with him. When they were downsizing, for example from 3 beds to 2 beds or from 4 bed to 2 beds but only needed one bedroom, they found that they were not able to downsize advantageously through the policy. He stressed that the council wanted to encourage people to downsize.  The Head of Housing Needs agreed that the council did want to encourage people to downsize but stressed that 2 bedroom accommodation was the most sought after in the city. Officers tried to allocate accommodation according to need. The council did not have an allocation policy currently that allowed people to have an extra bedroom. The Chair stressed that there were flexibilities in the policy around disabilities. 

 

25.15  Councillor Hill referred to the amendment and asked if there was any scope to compromise and change 2.3.14 to “That the Committee receive a report in two years’ time…” instead of a year’s time.  Councillor Gibson stated that he would be prepared to compromise and amend the amendment to report back in two years.

 

25.16  After some discussion it was clarified that by the Executive Director that what the amendment was saying was that although the committee would have the report in two years’ time, it would not just report on performance from today to two years’ time. It would report from 2017 (the beginning of the allocations policy) to 2020. 

 

25.17  Councillor Druitt seconded the amended amendment. He stated that Housing & New Homes Committee in 2016 passed an amendment that changed the number of refusals from one to two. He understood at the time that the amendment covered all queues. Correspondence received today suggested that that was not the case and that the homeless queue was not included. The Head of Housing Needs explained that the homeless queue was not included as the homeless legislation was very clear that one offer of suitable accommodation discharges the homelessness duty.

 

25.18  Councillor Druitt referred to people who were removed from the waiting list at the time and asked how many had appealed the decision and whether any appeals had been upheld. The Head of Housing Needs referred to table on page 113 of the report which set out all the reviews.  There was a column that showed the numbers that had been removed from the register. They were all the people who had requested a review based on being removed from the register. There was a total of 513 reviews. Only 31 were upheld. Some were still outstanding. She would circulate to members the reason why some were upheld as requested by Councillor Druitt.

 

25.19  Members voted on the amended amendment which was agreed unanimously. Members then voted on the substantive recommendations which were agreed unanimously as amended.

 

25.20  RESOLVED:-         

 

         

That the Housing & New Homes Committee:

 

(1)      Notes the performance monitoring report at appendix one of the report

 

(2)      Agrees that the percentage of properties advertised under the Allocations Plan remains as follows:

 

         Homeless 40%

         Transfers 30%

         Homeseekers 20%

         Council’s Interest (Social Services) 10%

 

(3)      Agrees to the following minor amendments to the Allocations Policy as set out

 

(i)  Band C Sheltered no other housing need – update to restrict this band reason to bids only on sheltered accommodation and not general needs.

 

(ii)  Point of clarification – award of extra bedroom as contained in appendix two paras 3.3 to 3.7

 

(iii)  3 bedroom properties with a dining room – increase minimum number of occupants to maximise occupancy level to large properties

 

(iv)   Decrease total household income in policy to

§  One bed       £22,000

§  Two bed       £32,000

§  Three bed and above £36,000

 

(v)      Increase savings cap to four months average rent

 

• One bed       £5,000

• Two bed       £7,000

• Three bed and above £8,200

 

(vi)      Increase savings cap for sheltered applicants only to £16.000

 

(vii)  Waive savings cap on extra care applications. Waiver cases can only be offered   accommodation if there are no other non-waiver case waiting for extra care

 

(viii)   Remove sheltered Panel from the sheltered assessment process

 

(ix)   Introduce new Band A – sheltered applicant with need to  move under the allocations policy within the same scheme

 

(x)      Affordability of accommodation due to the welfare benefit cap – Ability to by-pass applicant who is not able to afford accommodation.

 

(xi)     Removal of over 50s requirement in seven blocks of flats.  (not over 55 for sheltered) 

 

(xii)     Amend Band D Applicants, required to be on the Housing Register of the purpose of obtaining shared ownership. These applicants may only be assessed for the above purpose and will not receive an allocation of social housing or be nominated to a Housing Association, to include the following. Different financial caps may be applied for applications for shared ownership than those used for social /housing applications. All applications for this band will remain suspended whilst in this Band.

 

(xiii)    Change the method of increasing the income and savings from the Consumer Prices Index to the increase in average rents in the city allowing applicants 50% of income for the purpose of rent.

 

(xiv)    That the Committee receive a report, in two years’ time, setting out the performance against the allocations plan, for the period January 2017- March 2020.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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