Agenda item

Social Housing Allocations

To receive an update on social housing allocations.


RECEIVED the report of Richard Sorenson (Head of the Housing Advisory Service)


Neil Wightman (Director of Housing Services (residents) presented this item with Joanne Drew (Strategic Director of Housing & Regeneration).


Neil Wightman provided a short update on social housing allocations this year. He drew the Panels attention to the key points in the report listed under the main considerations section (numbers 2-6) in the report.


Since the scheme was last amended four years ago the numbers on the housing register have doubled to 7,500. The number of properties allocated yearly is approximately 450, this has been consistent over the last few years. Demand far outstrips supply of properties.


Good progress has been made on the decant of both Shropshire and Cheshire House and advised that these households have been given significant priority to be moved through the decant process.


Whilst the highest demand is for three bedroomed properties the majority of properties becoming available are one and two bedrooms. The report includes tables of allocations by bedroom size and by the means categories of these allocations. The emergency and exceptional take the highest number of the Lets, the majority of these being decants.


There is currently a government consultation on social housing allocations.


In answer to questions:


Neil Wightman agreed to provide members with figures of how many social housing allocations are outside of Enfield. Members were advised that this is a fairly low figure. Action Neil Wightman


A further update was provided on the decanting of the Shropshire and Cheshire House. There were around 170 tenanted homes in total, currently down to 34 and half of these have put expressions of interest on other properties. Officers are still working on this on a daily basis.


It was confirmed that the Shires is being decommissioned which means that the council will no longer be letting these buildings, looking at alternative options instead.


There was further discussion on the review of the allocations policy with regards to objectives, principles, and emerging ideas. This will be a light touch review as only 4 years since the last review. There are some clear decisions and priorities to be looked at such as overcrowding and who is best to get the scarce resources available. It was agreed that the review consultation could be presented at the next Housing Scrutiny meeting.


Overcrowding is a difficult issue; the report shows that only 16 large bedroom properties have been allocated this year. The Council’s development programme will deliver some larger properties between now and August. As these are small numbers the review will look at what can be done to manage this, including what other authorities are doing on this issue. Looking at what support can be provided families in their homes living, supporting them to manage. It should be noted that we will never be able to meet demand.


Last year a 10-year fixed term tenure was introduced. It is hoped that after this period these larger properties are no longer required. Larger families with older children could look at putting them in split into 2 smaller properties, this is on the decants Where there is underoccupancy was Incentives are provided to encourage downsizing such as money per bedroom being given up and top priority to choose properties that they would like to move to. There will be a marketing and promotional campaign later this year to encourage people to downsize.


Members felt that the points system is confusing and more could be done to help people to understand how this works. Officers agreed to take this issue back and look at how this could be explained better. Action Neil Wightman


The government consultation includes:

           a 10-year UK connection test, if connection cannot be proved then would be unable to go on any register in the country. Currently, Enfield use a local connection test where you must prove a connection in 3 out of 5 years (aggregate).

           Also proposes income test, we already use in Enfield though government could set figures at a UK threshold, Enfield will respond that we the threshold is local not national

           ASB is included looking at having exclusions from the register due to ASB and grant possession against social housing tenants where they are 3 proven examples of ASB

           There is an element on where fraudulent declaration, most local authorities do look at this already. The consultation is looking to strengthen measures against fraudulent application declarations. 


Fraudulent applications are taken seriously in Enfield not only will people be removed from the register the local authority will name and shame.


Figures requested on number of reclaimed properties; officers advised that this will be included in the future update.


Should a household be evicted they would be unlikely to be accepted through the allocations service and as would be viewed as intentionally homeless. However, through the Homelessness Service advise and support would be provided.


Further clarification sought on UK wide connection test, at present this test does not exist. It is not yet known how this will work in terms of people who have not got recourse to funds. This is likely to be different from the local test. Not sure how many people would be affected where other authorities have looked at this it is between 6-8%. It will be the local authority’s responsibility to determine the UK connection. It is suggested that there will be a range of exceptions such as those fleeing domestic abuse. The Homelessness legislation does not dovetail perfectly to the Allocations review.


It was agreed that a further update come to the next meeting on changes to be made to the allocations policy.

Supporting documents: