Row Of Houses

A consultation over proposed changes to the way social housing is allocated in Redditch is under way.

Redditch Borough Council is inviting comments on several changes being proposed around eligibility to join the councils housing register and the priorities people may receive in being allocated a council or housing association property, under its new draft Housing Allocations Policy.

Currently applicants for social housing in Redditch are placed on the housing register in three bands of priority depending on their housing need, and also receive points within those bands depending on certain circumstances. Applicants are then either matched directly to a local social housing property, or can bid on available properties. The chances of a successful bid depend on the applicants banding and points and other factors, including time spent on the register.

Among the changes proposed to the current system are:

  • Closing the housing register to people without a local connection unless they have a legal right to be on it,
  • Creating a system of six bands and removing the points element. Applicants will be considered in order of length of time spent on the register within the bands.
  • Increasing priority to people who are actively contributing to their community including through being a key worker, caring or volunteering with a registered charity.
  • Reducing priority to people without a local connection but legal right to be on it, people with equity of £95,000 or more or a household income of over £45,000 (excluding means tested benefits), people who have deliberately worsened their own housing conditions, and people who breach their tenancy conditions such as by having enforcement action taken against them for not paying rent or for anti-social behaviour,
  • Bringing the use of bedrooms by children into line with housing benefit rules, meaning bedrooms would be expected to be shared by two siblings until the eldest tenth birthday or sixteenth birthday where the siblings are of the same sex, with discretion for exceptional circumstances.

Executive Councillors gave the go-ahead for the new proposals to go to consultation at their meeting on Tuesday (October 23).

Councillor Craig Warhurst, whose portfolio covers housing, said: “Housing is a top priority for this council. This new policy will help us to allocate properties to those in greatest need and those with a local connection to Redditch. It is simply not right with a shortage of social housing in Redditch that anyone from anywhere can access the Redditch Housing Register and this needs to change. The new policy recommendations will enable us to make best use of the limited social housing stock in the Borough and ensure people are in the right size home to meet their needs.

“The new banding system is aimed at giving applicants an honest and transparent view of their position on the list, the current 3 band and points solution just does not offer a fair view of an applicants position. With no new houses built by the council in Redditch in the past 20 years we have also engaged in a plan to build more social and affordable housing to help support demand.

“We also want to ensure that the policy will help deter bad behaviour and Anti-Social Behaviour, which deeply affects other residents. The inclusion of additional waiting time being awarded to Key Workers and Volunteers of Registered Charities also rewards, recognises and promotes the positive role of peoples contribution to their community.”

From Monday October 29 you can view and comment on the draft ‘Housing Allocations Policy 2019’ here, and look out for copies of the consultation at Redditch Town Hall. If you cannot access the consultation online you can request a paper copy from the borough council’s Engagement, Equalities and Policy team.

A date is also being arranged for a special Town Hall group discussion on the consultation that will be open to members of the Redditch Community Panel. Any resident of the borough can join the panel here, or by calling the Engagement, Equalities and Policy team as above. Invitations to the discussion will be sent out to panel members once it has been arranged.

The closing date for comments will be 9am on Thursday 13 December, 2018.