To report on the review and seek agreement to changes proposed in the Housing Allocations Policy (report of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health and Executive Director – Place is enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health and the Executive Director – Place which sought the panel’s agreement to changes to the Housing Allocations Policy.
The Place Manager stated that the policy had been reviewed several years ago, but that some members felt the review was too strong.
The critical points were;
· Housing application process – currently a paper process, it was the intention to move this online, and 80% of customers wanted online.
· Qualifying local connections. Reduce the time this was taking.
· Sheltered accommodation – reduce the lower age limit from 65 to 55 years of age.
· Offers of accommodation – currently offer 3 choices for accommodation. It was hoped that the changes would amend this to 2 choices.
Welland Homes was included in the policy, but could be removed in the future.
The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health stated that this review was necessary. She stated that the total figure of people on the list would now be more realistic.
Members stated that they were pleased to see this report and felt that it was well written and addressed many important issues.
They asked if a tenant breeched the conditions, what was the policy of re-allowing them onto the register. The Housing Services Manager stated if it was a criminal offence, then they would not be allowed back into the register until their probation was over. It was stated if the offence was non-criminal then the person would need to be able to prove a period of tenancy elsewhere without incident.
Members asked why in paragraph 8.2.5 of the report it specified that a candidate was viable at age 55 regardless of gender. The Housing Services Manager stated that this was a historic leftover. Officers agreed that this could be examined and removed if necessary.
Members asked what the definition of an ‘offence’ was. Officers stated that it was purposefully flexible definition to allow for examination on a case-by-case basis. The Housing Services Manager responded that this could be further clarified, just to make it slightly easier to interpret, although it was stated that flexibility was still necessary.
Members asked what a ‘Modern Slave’s’ position was relating to viability for going onto the housing register. Officers stated they would seek clarification.
Members asked if the policy worked with the rehabilitation of offenders act. Officers stated they would seek clarification.
The Chairman felt that where the policy referred to getting help for those who struggled with the application process, there was a risk of that help manifesting itself as those individuals being told to complete the process digitally. He asked if they were comfortable that suitable help could be given, even to those who were not computer literate. The Place Manager stated that, yes, they were confident. Members asked that officers be certain that digital aspects of the policy were well signposted.
Members asked that the policy be reviewed by PDP 6 months after implementation in April 2019.
That it be recommended:
a) That members agree the changes proposed following the review of the Housing Allocations Policy.
b) That Members approve the revised policy coming into effect from 1st April 2019 once the IT capability was operational to enable applications to self-manage.
c) That following Members approval, the Council’s Private Sector Housing Team and other appropriate external partners are advised of the changes.
d) That the Policy be reviewed by the Policy Development Panel 6 months after it was implemented in April 2019.