South Gloucestershire Council is consulting on proposed changes to the HomeChoice Re-housing policy from 12/1/18 until 6/4/18.  Consultation page

Proposal to amend the HomeChoice Rehousing policy. Purpose of the Rehousing Policy

The Council’s HomeChoice re-housing policy sets out two things –

1) How the Council assesses applications for social housing and

2)The procedure that has to be followed to allocate them.

The Council has used a banding system to prioritise housing applications since 2008, when at the same time choice based lettings was introduced. This is a system where all properties are advertised on a weekly cycle and housing applicants are able to express an interest in up to 3 properties – this is called ‘bidding’. At the end of the advertising cycle, a shortlist is created automatically for each property, with those who have bid appearing according to banding and time waiting.

Aims of the Rehousing policy

As well as fulfilling a statutory requirement, the main aim of the rehousing policy is to make sure that those in the greatest need of housing have the highest priority. Most of the circumstances that identify housing need are set out in the Housing Act 1996 (so-called ‘reasonable preference’ categories). This recognises key groups at risk because of having nowhere secure to live and/or having housing that causes additional health or welfare problems.

The Council does not have any housing of its own and so the policy also helps our social landlords to let their properties. The HomeChoice Rehousing policy also needs to ensure that all applicants are treated consistently, and that access to housing supports other Council plans and statutory duties, for example to homeless households.

Why change the policy?

The rehousing policy is more or less the same since the time it was introduced, apart from some minor changes to respond to changes in the law. This has generally worked well, although now there are reasons to look at making changes that are more major.

These reasons include:

 The current bandings are broad based and within each band is a range of housing circumstances that are given equal priority. A growing proportion of applicants are now facing multiple problems, though they are assessed in the same category as those who have just a single issue – this particularly applies to applicants in Band B - and so it is proposed that the number of bandings is increased from three (3) to four (4) to primarily separate out applicants in this band.

 The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 – this is new legislation that significantly expands the Council’s duties to prevent homelessness and to help those who are actually homeless. There are some circumstances in the current bandings that come under this though it might not be obvious. This is particularly where someone might have a roof over their head, though they are unable to remain where they are or it isn’t safe for them to do so. At the moment, this is not set out explicitly in the bandings and so the Council needs to include this in a transparent way.

Progress to date

Research to develop the proposals has included:

 A thorough analysis of the housing register to look at how many applicants are affected by more than one housing needs issue, particularly where this is the equivalent of homelessness, and how the proposed changes wouldimpact the number of applicants in each banding

 A thorough analysis of housing lettings over a period of time and a reassessment of those who would have been higher up a shortlist under the proposed bandings, and the reasons for this.

 An Equalities Impact Analysis and Assessment to look at whether the proposed changes support the Council in improving access to housing for those with particular needs

 Discussions with two of our biggest landlords to confirm that the proposals support their own priorities

Consultation

This consultation will be primarily aimed at members of the public and housing applicants, and social landlords who have a nominations agreement with the Council. Responses are also welcome from relevant stakeholders and partners, including those who support our housing applicants.

Have your say 

Please have your say by the consultation deadline 26 March 2018

https://consultations.southglos.gov.uk/consult.ti/HomeChoice2017/consultationHome