Thursday, 6 December 2012

Proposed changes on the way homes are let to be discussed at Cabinet

Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet will discuss proposed changes to the Housing Allocations Policy and the Tenancy Strategy on Wednesday, 12 December
Major changes are being proposed which would alter the way the council and housing associations in the town lets out properties and the type of tenancy any new tenants would be offered.
The Council began a 16 week consultation on the changes in July and the results will be discussed at the meeting.
The Allocations Policy sets out how social housing is let. It covers things like who can join the Housing Register, the priority people are given for homes and transfers to other properties.
At the moment applicants are either placed in an emergency group or into one of four priority bands, A to D. These bands give applicants different priority if they bid for a home when a property comes available through the Choice Based Lettings scheme.
The changes proposed in the Allocations Policy include reclassifying and removing some bands: these are bands C&D and consist of tenants who joined the waiting list with no specific or immediate need and  who, due to housing availability,  would not receive a property until their needs changed.
This means 5,400 would be taken off the Housing Register. Priority would a be given to people in severe housing need, those with a local connection, people leaving the armed forces and those who are working or actively seeking voluntary or paid work.
The Tenancy Strategy looks at different ways to make sure housing is used in the best way, helping people who have the greatest need.
The changes proposed would see the introduction of flexible tenancies. This means that not all new tenants would be given a lifetime tenancy, instead flexible tenancies could be offered for a minimum of five years. Housing associations would also be encouraged to offer similar tenancies through their tenancy policies.
Existing tenants will not be affected by the changes unless they move to an affordable rented home in which they would pay a higher rent. However, people on the Housing Register who might be offered a property in the future would only be given a tenancy for five years.
Councillor Mary Markham, Cabinet member for housing said:
 “The number of people in housing need continues to grow and councils are being challenged to make the best used of the social housing which is available. The Localism Act also enables councils to make changes to how homes are let and introduce a system which better reflects local circumstances. At Cabinet we’ll be discussing the local housing issues, the proposed changes and the views of local people gathered in the consultation.”
As part of the consultation tenants and people on the Housing Register were sent information about the proposed changes and asked to fill in the questionnaires. Thirty seven drop-ins took place and information and the questionnaires were available on the Council’s website.
The results were broadly supportive of the proposed changes to the Housing Allocation Policy, although 44 % agreed and 43% of respondents disagreed with the proposal to remove band C and D customers from the Housing Register.
Respondents to the Tenancy Strategy supported the idea to introduce flexible tenancies and 94% agreed with the proposal to give older people a lifetime tenancy and 80% of people agreed that tenancies should be renewed after five years if people’s circumstances had not changed.
The Cabinet meeting will take place on Wednesday, 12 December in the Jeffrey Room, the Guildhall, Northampton at 6pm.
Members of the public are welcome to attend and can register to speak for three minutes about an item on the agenda before 12 noon on the day of the meeting.