The Housing Strategy and Enabling Team Leader presented the proposed updates to the Housing Allocations Policy. Officers had been reviewing the policy and the flexibilities provided to Councils in the Localism Act 2011 and the report highlighted changes that officers were proposing to the policy to reflect this.
Following the publication of the agenda for the Executive Committee meeting Officers had suggested further changes to the policy which were circulated for Members’ consideration in a written handout (Appendix 1). This suggested that applicants who were volunteers must be volunteering with a registered charity at the point of application for their status as a volunteer to be taken into account. The changes also removed reference to lone parents who were the primary carer of a child in receipt of child benefit for that child.
The Housing Strategy and Enabling Team Leader highlighted the following additional changes to the policy that were proposed in the report:
· Officers were proposing that an applicant should have a local connection to be eligible to apply for affordable housing, unless they could be categorised as having a “reasonable preference” in line with legislation. Under the existing policy anybody could apply for affordable housing form the Council.
· Officers were proposing to replace the current gold, silver and bronze banding system with bands 1 to 6. Those in band 1 would be those considered to be most in need. Those in Band 4 were in a reduced priority band but might have a “reasonable preference”. Band 5 related to applicants with few issues and band 6 would encompass applicants who had access to their own financial resources.
· It was proposed that the bedroom standard should change to mirror requirements in the Housing Benefits system. Under these arrangements children of the same sex could be expected to share a room up to the age of 16 whilst those of different sexes would be expected to share a room up to the age of 10.
· It was proposed that key workers, such as nurses should be provided with additional preference to help access housing. Officers had incorporated the HMRC’s definition of a key worker into the policy
· The minimum age of applicants would rise from 16 to 18, should the proposed changes in the policy be agreed. The earliest that a young person could secure a tenancy was at the age of 18 so this change would reflect that. Care leavers would be excluded from this policy requirement.
Following the presentation of the report Members discussed the proposed changes to the policy in some detail and highlighted a number of points:
· The need for a Housing Allocations Policy that would be fair to applicants. Members expressed the hope that the changes to the policy would make it fairer for Redditch residents.
· The change to the policy that recognised the role of key workers. Members welcomed this proposed amendment and noted that key workers made a valuable contribution to the local community.
· The crisis in housing at a national level and ... view the full minutes text for item 46