Allocations Scheme Update
The Committee received a presentation from the Service Manager (Housing Options) on the Allocations Scheme.
The presentation had been published to the website and could be accessed via the below link:
Following the presentation, the Service Manager (Housing Options) and the Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) answered Members questions
- The Holding Hands Policy was currently in review, but it was still implemented to assist tenants when they wanted to downsize their home.
- When tenants completed their application, there was an option to fill out if they were armed forces; the armed forces priority also extended to ex-armed forces and the spouses of deceased armed forces. In the new banding, all the armed forces tenants came under Band A – Critical Housing Need
- The new Banding System was streamlined and within those bands were reasons for how each tenant was put into each band, which was outlined in the presentation:
- Band A – Critical Housing Need
- Band B – Urgent Housing Need
- Band C – Reasonable Preference
- Band D – General Housing Need
- With regards to the Bedroom Tax being charged to disabled tenants, there were different regulations under Housing Benefit; the Service Manager (Housing Options) agreed to circulate a proper response with the minutes.
- Choice based lettings were available to all Council tenants but a tenant providing a very narrow search area would likely result in the tenant waiting years to move; a tenant was much more likely to be able to move if they cast a wider net around the Borough. The Team actively called tenants that had been on the list for years and hadn’t bid for available properties to encourage them to broaden their search for a better to chance to move house.
- The allocation of properties was done by the banding but the banding date was also important as tenants that had applied earlier would be shortlisted before those that had applied more recently; for example, those tenants on the waiting list for the longest would receive priority and bump them up higher within the banding reasons.
- With regards to waiting times, tenants that didn’t bid on any properties and only wanted a very specific house in a specific area such as a three-bed semi-detached in Meopham, would be waiting for a longer time than someone who bid on numerous available properties all over the Borough.
- One of Band A’s reasoning was urgent medical care; an example being a tenant being wheelchair bound and living in a property with stair only access that wasn’t suited to their needs. Medium medical care reloaning came under Band C and an example was a tenant with less severe disabilities that lived in a property that they could manage, but it wasn’t perfectly suited to their needs. When medical reasoning was part of a tenants banding there wasn’t a one size fits all classification; many different surrounding facts were taken into account for each individual case. Within Gravesham many tenants prioritized medical need over overcrowding reasons
- The number of three-bedroom properties with one tenant in residence who was looking to downsize to somewhere else in the Borough was relatively low.
Following a discussion on managing tenants’ expectations on waiting for certain types of properties, Members were encouraged to inform residents that the wider their search the more likely they were to move into an available property. The Director (Housing) informed Members that information on average waiting times was a snapshot in time and not meaningful data due to the varying circumstances that can influence the data.
The Committee asked that, during housing training to Members in the new financial year, a section be included that advised Members to explain that chances of tenants moving to a different property were higher when they searched Borough wide.
The Committee thanked the Service Manager (Housing Options) for a clear and informative presentation.