Have your say on how we allocate homes and support people in housing need

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Closes 8 Mar 2021

Have your say on how we allocate homes and support people in housing need

1. Current situation

The current five band scheme includes: Emergency, Urgent, Priority/Homeless, General and Reserve bands. Through an allocation of points the current scheme is designed to differentiate between applicants with different requirements and characteristics to prioritise those with greater needs.

The huge demand for social housing in the borough means that there are currently over 13,000 households on Hackney’s housing register. Most applicants on the register will not be offered a social housing tenancy, as there simply isn’t enough social housing to go round. We anticipate that only around 600 homes will become available as social lets between April 2020 and April 2021.

Do you agree or disagree that social housing should be allocated to those most in need?

(Required)

The proposal

We believe that allowing households with little prospect of being housed to join the housing register raises their expectations that they will receive an offer of housing when this is unlikely to happen. We also believe that this results in applicants constantly searching for additional points, as they expect that it will increase their priority.
 

We want to create a new system that is:

  • Empathic – prioritising people with the greatest need
  • Simple – easier to apply and guides people to the right outcome
  • Robust – generates less confusion and misunderstanding
  • Fairer – provides predictable outcomes
  • Clearer – changing the conversation about what’s possible

Do you agree or disagree that the current system needs to change?

(Required)
2. We are proposing to replace the current five band housing register with a three band register. This would include the bands listed below. In this system, households in Band A would no longer bid for properties through a choice based lettings system, but would instead be offered one direct offer of suitable permanent accommodation that meets the household’s needs. Households in bands B and C would continue to bid for properties through a choice based lettings system, as with the current housing register:
  • Band A – Households with an emergency need for housing. They would receive one direct offer of accommodation.
  •  Band B – Households with a significant need for housing. They would bid for properties through a choice based lettings system or receive one direct offer of accommodation.
  •  Band C – Households with a specific need for a restricted type of accommodation, such as sheltered or older persons accommodation.

The new three band register would focus on those households who have the greatest need, whether this be overcrowding, medical or social, and only these residents would qualify to join.

  • Statutorily overcrowded households – lacking two or more rooms.
  •  Significant medical need – existing accommodation leaves someone housebound or has a pronounced impact on their wellbeing due to medical reasons.
  • Significant social need – existing accommodation is a threat to someone’s life or has a pronounced impact on their wellbeing, and there is no alternative effective remedy other than moving from the accommodation.

We are proposing to do this because the current scheme has low entry requirements meaning that many people get placed in the lower priority bands who are highly unlikely to ever secure a social home. This can lead to false expectations and increased levels of complaints and reviews. We think a more transparent system with realistic entry requirements would help people understand their options better.

Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to replace the current five band register with a new three band register?

(Required)
3. Do you agree or disagree that the new register should include those with the greatest level of need (overcrowding, medical and social)?
(Required)
4. Under the current allocations scheme, households can refuse up to three offers of a suitable home.

As part of the proposals, we are considering reducing the number of times that a household can refuse an offer from three times to two times. This is because we only have a small number of properties that become available each year and we don’t want people to miss out because they are waiting for a type of property that may not become available for a long time. At the moment, homeless households receive one direct offer, and this would continue to be the case under the new scheme.

Do you think it is reasonable to reduce the number of times that a non-homeless household can refuse an offer from three to two?

(Required)
5. As part of our proposals, many people would no longer be eligible to join the housing register, and instead we would work with them to help them into other accommodation.

At the moment, officers spend a lot of time administering the current system, responding to queries and complaints. If we move to the proposed three band system, officer time would be freed up to provide other services including:

  • Personalised, dedicated housing advice and support.
  • Help finding suitable privately rented accommodation.
  • An enhanced mutual exchange offer to help households already in permanent social housing to agree a transfer to alternative accommodation.
  • Dedicated downsizing support for households under occupying accommodation.

Do you agree or disagree that access to these services would benefit those who do not qualify to join the register?

(Required)
6. Do you have any other comments or suggestions?