CBL Warwickshire County Council by alicejenny


									                                                   AGENDA ITEM NO


Report to: Cabinet, 13 June 2007

From:       Assistant Director - Housing


Portfolio: Housing (Councillor B Copland)

1.    Purpose of Report

      To seek formal approval for full participation in the Southern
      Staffordshire and Northern Warwickshire Sub Regional Choice
      Based Letting Scheme, in order for us to remain part of the

2.    Recommendation

      That Cabinet approves full development and participation in the
      Sub Regional Choice Based Letting Scheme.

3.    Report

      Two previous reports have been brought to Cabinet to update
      members on process with development on Choice Based Lettings
      (CBL). This progress is coming to a critical point, and formal
      approval for full participation is required in order for us to remain
      as part of the project. Members are reminded this is a
      Government requirement by 2010. If we do not join the Sub
      Region we will be required to develop our own scheme and all
      relevant systems to operate this.

4.    Benefits of Choice Based Lettings

4.1   Our current waiting list system is confusing to applicants, with a
      complex points scheme that is not easily understood and which
      makes waiting times impossible to predict. The system is almost
      entirely geared to the allocation of council housing, which steers
      applicants away from considering alternative housing choices.
      CBL gives applicants more say in determining where they live by
      being able to apply for vacant homes that are advertised. Whilst
      meeting housing need and homelessness issues it is also the best
      way to ensure sustainable tenancies. Research shows that where
      CBL is employed tenants remain in their homes for longer and are
      more likely to meet their tenancy obligations, building settled,
      viable and inclusive communities. (CLG, Code of Guidance on
      allocation of accommodation – choice based lettings. Brown and
      Yates 2007). www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1505526

4.2   By advertising some vacancies over a regional area, applicants
      will be able to make a positive and informed choice over where
      they want to live. This also helps to ease localised problems of
      high and low demand.

4.3   There is a need to change the perception that social housing is the
      only solution to the housing problem, by advising applicants on a
      range of potential options. This is particularly the case for
      applicants with little prospect of actually getting social housing.
      CBL will give transparency to the housing situation in the Borough.
      Applicants will be given more accurate information about their
      housing prospects and the current housing market. They will be
      given more targeted advice helping them to make informed,
      realistic decisions.

4.4   Our Housing Advice Section is in the process of expanding their
      service, looking at alternative housing options and new housing
      markets such as the Homebuy scheme (low cost ownership),
      shared ownership and private sector renting with the assistance of
      our rent deposit scheme. This will help to reduce the number of
      applicants needing to be accepted as homeless and help many
      waiting on the housing register.

4.5   Given the large number of applicants on our Housing Register, at
      present 3,852 (as at 21 May 2007) and with fewer vacant Council
      properties becoming available, CBL will encourage other social
      and private landlords to include their stock within the system.
5.    Camp Hill Development

5.1   A housing needs survey is currently being undertaken. However
      with Housing Associations advertising their properties on a Choice
      Based Letting Scheme with the Council retaining nomination
      rights, and later on in the scheme private landlords advertising
      properties this will give a larger number of properties available. To
      ensure that priority is given to the Regeneration Scheme, Camp
      Hill properties will be specifically advertised for applicants from
      Camp Hill.

6.    Vulnerable Groups

6.1   Research clearly shows that vulnerable households like the
      openness and transparency of CBL schemes. Support must be
      given through the process of accessing CBL.

6.2   By expanding our services and working with other agencies,
      support and advice will be given to individuals. Support can be
      reduced when applicants become more confident, but this can
      also increase at any stage when their needs change.

6.3   Within the Sub Regional Scheme the government office made
      particular comment on the strength of support to be provided to
      individuals within this group.

7.    Strength of Sub Regional Approach

7.1   Members will recall the Southern Staffordshire and Northern
      Warwickshire CBL Scheme included 7 local authorities and 5
      Housing Associations which already operate in our Borough.

7.2   By joining this scheme we can utilise an already established and
      successful choice based letting scheme as Homezone (Lichfield
      District Council’s Housing Management Organisation) has been
      using this system since 2003.

7.3   This will enable the Council to use a common allocation framework
      that will be more cost effective, more transparent and simpler for
      applicants to understand, particularly those seeking to move
      between local authority areas. NBBC current housing policy does
      not need to change.
7.4   The scheme would allow the greatest choice in meeting tenants
      housing needs bringing together a larger pool of housing stock,
      breaking down artificial boundaries and recognising existing
      housing and labour markets. This will enable greater regional
      mobility and allow partners (Local Authority and Housing
      Associations) to share development costs.

8.    Effect on Void Relet Times

8.1   Research shows that by using a strict advertising cycle,
      improvements had been made in the housing management
      process, such as void management, property inspections and
      tenancy offer stage.

8.2   Further efficiencies achieved included:

          Advertising properties when the existing tenant gives notice
           rather than waiting for the property to become vacant.
          Weekly advertising cycles that ensure there are no delays in
           advertising properties.

8.3   Research also notes that void figures may increase for a short
      period, possibly 4 to 6 weeks at the beginning of the scheme until
      applicants become familiar with the bidding process.

9.    Cost Implications

9.1   As reported previously the total cost to join this CBL, which
      includes software, data transfer, implementation services, annual
      housing and maintenance charges, is £16,468. This will be met
      from the Housing Revenue Account.

9.2   As a reminder to members the total cost to implement our own
      unique CBL scheme is approximately £168,000.

10.   Conclusions

10.1 As stated in paragraph 3 there is a requirement for us to have a
     CBL system by 2010. The Council has a choice of either
     developing its own system or being part of the Sub Regional
     consortium at a 10th of the estimated cost of going it alone.
11.   Recommendations

11.1 Cabinet approves full development and participation in the Sub
     Regional Scheme.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council – Report Summary Sheet

1.    Name of Meeting:               Cabinet

2.    Date of Meeting:               13 June 2007

3.    Report Title:                  CHOICE BASED LETTINGS

4.    Portfolio:                     Councillor Bob Copland

5.    Ward Relevance:                Borough Wide

6.    Contact Officer:               Jane Beard, Service Development Officer

7.    Report Subject to Call-in:     Yes

8.    Forward Plan:                  No

9.    Corporate Priorities:          Key Aim 1.1: To provide a choice of
                                     housing to meet the needs of the residents
                                     in the Borough.

10.   Statutory/Policy Background:   Government Priority for all housing
                                     providers to implement Choice Based
                                     Lettings by 2010.

11.   Summary:                       For Cabinet to approve full development
                                     and participation in the sub-Regional

12.   Equal Opportunities:           Improve access and widen choice to
                                     housing applicants with housing need
                                     including all vulnerable groups.

13.   Human Resources                The scheme will run with existing
      Implications:                  resources.

14.   Financial Implications:        Refer to point 9 within the report.

15.   Risk Management                Risk of sanctions from government if
      Implications:                  system not introduced.

16.   Environmental Implications:    None

17.   Legal Implications:            Not offering equal opportunities and
                                     potentially discriminating against
                                     applicants. Potentially open to challenge
                                     by not offering equality opportunities.
18.   Options:          None.

19.   Recommendation:   Cabinet approves full development and
                        participation in the Sub Regional Scheme.

20.   Reasons for       Progress with development of Sub-
      Recommendation:   Regional Scheme at a critical point and
                        formal approval is required in order for us
                        to remain as part of the project.

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