Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director of Housing:
a. presented a report to update Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee on the introduction of the Council’s amended Allocations Policy from January 2021
b. advised that an amended Policy was agreed by members in March 2020 with an initial target date for implementation of June 2020, however due to the outbreak of Covid 19, our IT suppliers were unable to complete the IT amendments and testing as anticipated which had resulted in slippage in the implementation of the new Policy until January 2021
c. reported on one of the main changes being the introduction of a 24 month residency qualification having taken advice from our MHCLG Homelessness Advisors and in line with the provisions of the Localism Act 2011
d. provided a summary of the current position including the number of active applicants allowed to bid on the Waiting List as at 23 February 2021 and details of 40 properties having been allocated to households with a local connection to the City as summarised at paragraph 3 of her report
e. reported that in total, we housed 28 households from Band 1, 11 from Band 2 and 1 from Band 3
f. noted that the majority of properties becoming available to let were 1 bed units as a result of the ongoing pandemic encouraging people to stay at home and only move in exceptional circumstances
g. added that customer enquiries continued to be high particularly from family households who would like to move but we continued to experience reduced turnover of stock particularly for 3 and 4 bed houses and it was difficult to predict when the supply of family accommodation would change
h. highlighted that we also continued to experience low demand for independent living properties, in part due to the reluctance of older people to move during the pandemic
i. requested members’ comments on the content of the report.
Members discussed the report in further detail. Questions and comments were made as follows:
· Question: There was a long waiting list for four bed accommodation with ground floor bedrooms. Did we have any at all?
· Response: There were very few properties in this category. This type of accommodation would probably be required for families with disabled children. Workable solutions could involve creating downstairs bedroom/bathroom space and/or installing adaptations to the property.
· Comment: It was noted that 21 people were homeless at Band 1 and 6 at Band 2, this amounted to 27 people associated with the City which was disappointing.
· Response: The Authority did everything it could to try to prevent homelessness. There was the option of utilising other accommodation projects/private rented sector accommodation. The majority of homeless people were currently single people having been successfully removed from the streets. This may change as we moved out of the pandemic. In those circumstances where the authority had a statutory duty to homeless people it could not refuse to provide accommodation. Band 1 housing criteria required people to be statutorily homeless and Band 2 housing for people who must have a local connection.
· Question: So people coming into the city were still given priority over local people having 24 months residency?
· Response: Government legislation required the authority to house homeless people as a statutory duty. Everyone on the waiting list had a local connection.
· Question: Where did the figures for sofa surfers fit in?
· Response: These were categorised within Band 2 Homeless.
RESOLVED that the implementation of the new Allocations Policy and information regarding the waiting list since the change in policy as detailed within the officer’s report be noted.