Cabinet Portfolio: - Housing
Strategic Directorate: - Adult Care, Housing and Public Health
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 15 February 2021 that detailed proposed amendments to the Council’s Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy. The Cabinet Member for Housing and the Head of Housing Options attended the meeting to present the report.
In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Housing noted and welcomed the review of the proposed amendments to the Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy that had been carried out by members of the Improving Places Select Commission, the report on which was included later on the agenda.
The report stated that Council’s Housing Allocation Policy had been in place since 29 October 2014 and that since its introduction it had been subject periodic reviews and revisions, with the most recent update being carried out in September 2019 to respond to the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act.
The report detailed the proposed further adjustments to policy that aimed to respond to the lessons learned over the previous 12 months and also from the outcomes of a benchmarking exercise that had been carried out with other local authorities. The Head of Housing Options advised that the information gathered through these processes had helped to refine the policy and had also presented an opportunity to further improve how the Council helped those in greatest housing need. The Head of Housing Options noted that with the increase in homelessness cases due to the pandemic, it was essential that the Council’s Allocation Policy was able to deal effectively with the challenges that the increase in numbers of homeless had created.
The Head of Housing Options advised that the proposed amendments would ensure that the Council’s policy reflected the Government’s taskforce recommendations regarding the need accommodate people faced with rough sleeping. The Head of Housing Options noted that the proposed changes would also help to prevent repeat homelessness and ensure that rough sleepers did not end up back on the streets. The officer’s report detailed the 15 proposed changes to the policy along with the reasons for each change that was being proposed.
It was noted that as the Council’s Strategic Tenancy Policy was closely aligned with the Council’s allocation of housing stock, the opportunity had been taken to review the policy as part of the Allocations Policy review. The proposed amendments to the Strategic Tenancy Policy were detailed in the officer’s report.
Members welcomed the proposed amendments to the Council’s Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy and noted how they would ensure that the Council could respond to the needs of those who were homeless or rough sleeping in the most responsive way.
Members sought assurance that the proposed amendments would not stop tenants who were wanting to transfer properties from being able to so. The Head of Housing Options assured members that this facility would still be available, and that while tenancies required residents to commit to staying for at least 12 months in a property, processes and support were available to enable tenants to move property due to a change in their personal circumstances.
The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Head of Housing Options for attending the meeting and answering members’ questions.
That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.