Wolverhampton Housing Strategy

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Wolverhampton Housing Strategy Powered By Docstoc
					             Neighbourhoods, Homes, People

    Wolverhampton Housing Strategy
                                2011 - 2016
   Strategy Refresh and Choices for Action

                             FULL VERSION
                                    May 2011


Chapter 1:    Introduction

Chapter 2:    Supporting Positive Change for Wolverhampton

Chapter 3:    Focus on Neighbourhoods and Homes

Chapter 4:    Focus on People

Chapter 5:    How the Strategy will be Delivered and Monitored

Welcome to Wolverhampton’s Housing Strategy 2011-2016. This Strategy will support
Wolverhampton in achieving its long term ambitions, to develop its identity and economic
function as a key place on the regional, UK and international stage. These ambitions are
detailed in the Draft City Strategy (2010-26), which aims to deliver prosperity with
opportunity for all.

The Draft City Strategy has been produced as a refresh of the 2008 Sustainable
Communities Strategy, to reflect the effects of the economic downturn and the recent
budget cuts on Wolverhampton.

What are the Key Elements of the Housing Strategy?

In supporting the City’s vision, the Housing Strategy aims to ensure that people have
access to the housing they need and that problems relating to housing are addressed. It
embraces all housing types - new and existing housing, owner occupied, privately
rented, social housing and empty homes, treating them together as related parts of a
single housing offer. It aims to give people more flexibility and choice in housing and
better information to meet their living requirements and aspirations at different stages of
their lives. The Strategy also focuses on the places where people live, and people’s
development and well-being at all stages of their lives.

The Housing Strategy embraces ‘place-shaping’ - a way that partners can work together
to shape places that have an identity, a function and an economic purpose. It is
concerned with the ways housing enables people to live their lives well – to earn money,
achieve aspirations and live active lives for longer. It recognises that economic success
depends on people being attracted to Wolverhampton – as a place to live, to work, to do
business or to visit – on having opportunities and on feeling good about where they live.
It therefore covers elements such as the quality of neighbourhoods, access to services
and enabling different localities to develop their identity over time.

Why do we need a Housing Strategy Refresh?

The current Housing Strategy was produced in 2009 by the Wolverhampton Strategic
Housing Partnership, a theme group of the Wolverhampton Local Strategic Partnership
which includes Wolverhampton Homes, Housing Associations, housing developers,
private sector landlords and voluntary sector representatives.

There is now a need to review and refresh the Housing Strategy to reflect:-

     •   Opportunities presented by the Wolverhampton Single Conversation and Local
         Investment Plan

     •   The impact of budget cuts and the need to achieve “more with less”

Wolverhampton Single Conversation and Local Investment Plan

The Strategy reflects the “Single Conversation” between the Council and the Homes and
Communities Agency (HCA), which provides a framework, through the Wolverhampton
Local Investment Plan (LIP), to identify, invest in and address the significant challenges
that face the City. The LIP identifies thematic priorities and spatial priority areas:

Thematic Priorities:

 •       Delivering Housing Supply and supporting economic growth
 •       Existing homes
 •       Affordability and Accessibility
 •       Vulnerable and minority groups
 •       Place-making, regeneration and sustainability

Spatial Priority Areas:
 •       City Centre and Canalside development – New homes and economic growth
 •       Bilston and Bilston Urban Village – New homes and housing renewal
 •       Heath Town – New homes and housing renewal
 •       Stafford Road Corridor – New homes and economic growth
 •       Blakenhall and All Saints – New homes and housing renewal
 •       Whitmore Reans – New homes and housing renewal

National Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR)

The Comprehensive Spending Review, introduced in October 2010, includes a number
of financial and policy implications for housing up to 2015:


     •    Local authority spending down 28% by 2015
     •    Reduction in formula grant to local authorities, to be replaced by a New Homes
          Bonus (NHB). This matches the council tax on each new home and empty home
          brought back into use for 6 years, with extra payment for new affordable homes.
          Wolverhampton has received £444,000 NHB for 2011/12 and will receive
          increasing amounts in coming years.
     •    New Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to bid for regeneration funds – which
          will be cut by two thirds. The Black Country LEP covers Wolverhampton.

   •   Homes and Communities Agency budget reduced by 60% between 2008-11 and
       2011-15. £200m set aside for Mortgage Rescue and £100m for empty homes
   •   Continuing investment in Decent Homes programme – reduced levels in

Social Housing
   •   Housing Association able to raise rents for new tenants to 80% of market value
       and social landlords able to introduce fixed term tenancies
   •   Aim to create 37,500 new affordable homes per year between 2011 and 2015
       (compared with 58,000 achieved in 2009-10 and 56,000 in 2008-9) partly funded
       by higher rents
   •   Welfare benefits down £7bn per year - maximum benefit levels to be set
   •   Move towards self-financing through reform of the Housing Revenue Account
       subsidy system. Local authorities will keep rent and use to maintain homes.

   •   Disabled Facilities Grant to rise with inflation
   •   Homelessness Grant protected at current levels
   •   Supporting People funding reduced by 11.5%

Consultation on Priorities and Actions

The Housing Strategy belongs to the residents of Wolverhampton and the Partnership
will continue to work with local communities to ensure it meets their needs, through
sharing information on housing issues, regular communication and engagement. The
Partnership has consulted widely with local communities through the development of the
Strategy to date.

The economic downturn and the Comprehensive Spending Review create a strong
impetus for partners to align their resources better in order to deliver shared priorities
cost-effectively and to a high standard. To achieve this, it is important that partners,
together with the local communities, agree a list of priorities and decide which actions to
take forward to best achieve these priorities.

Therefore, the Housing Strategy Refresh and Choices document sets out:-

   •   How housing is key to delivering the vision for the City up to 2016

   •   Key housing priorities to deliver the vision, set out under two main themes –
       “Neighbourhoods and Homes” and “People”

   •   A range of potential actions to address these priorities

The new Housing Strategy will be supported by an Action Plan to drive housing activity.
The Action Plan will clearly identify key targets and accountability for delivery of high
level actions. The Action Plan will be linked to the Implementation Plan for the City

Consultation and engagement will take place with partners and local people on the
proposed priorities and choices during summer 2011. An assessment of resource
availability and delivery capacity will also take place to feed into preparation of the Action
Plan. The final Housing Strategy and Action Plan will be published in autumn 2011.


We need your views on the priorities and choices for action, to help develop the
Action Plan and finalise the Housing Strategy.

You can take part in the consultation by completing the consultation
questionnaire and returning it to us by 15th July 2011.

The consultation questionnaire and further details are available at:

Contact us:

Phone:        01902 554038

Email:        housing.strategy@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Post:         Housing Strategy
              Education and Enterprise
              Wolverhampton City Council
              Civic Centre
              St. Peter's Square
              WV1 1RP


The City Strategy

The City Strategy aims to achieve five “resident outcomes”:
     •   We like where we live
     •   We have the employment opportunities we need
     •   We live longer, healthier lives
     •   We feel safer and more involved
     •   We have the skills and knowledge we need

Housing meets a fundamental human need and can also help deliver wider positive
change for people and neighbourhoods. It is important to strike the right balance
between meeting housing needs, addressing housing market problems and supporting
Wolverhampton’s ambitions as a City. The Housing Strategy outcomes will support the
five resident outcomes in the following ways:

“We like where we live” and “We feel safer and more involved”

The City Strategy aims to meet the growing housing needs of Wolverhampton, to support
an increase in the City’s population from 236,000 to 252,000 by 2026. This will mean
increasing the number of homes in the City by 13%. Sufficient housing, with a good
choice of types, sizes and tenures, supported by residential services in each
neighbourhood, is likely to result in a good mix of people from different backgrounds,
ages and income levels. The design of homes and neighbourhoods and promoting the
development of social networks can reduce the likelihood of crime. Residents can be
involved in decisions about how their neighbourhoods develop through Local
Neighbourhood Partnerships.

“We live longer, healthier lives”

Well-managed housing of a decent standard is fundamental for good physical and
mental health, especially for vulnerable people, including the elderly and disabled. Over-
crowding in particular can impact on health and limit the development of young people
who cannot play or study effectively in crowded conditions. 55% of children in
Wolverhampton live in low income families and good quality housing is a fundamental
element of the Council’s strategy to reduce child poverty by 2026.

“We have the employment opportunities we need” and “We have the skills and
knowledge we need”

Talented people are required to grow businesses and Wolverhampton needs to appeal
to these people as a residential location. Senior executives of the future, recent
graduates and young people are more mobile than other sections of the population and
the City’s housing offer should include areas that will attract and retain these groups.

People who have been out of work for many years or have never worked are over-
represented in social housing. Housing providers play a significant role in providing
good quality, settled accommodation and building the ambition and aspirations of their
residents – in particular children growing up in households with no working role model
and young people needing support to become independent. They can also work with
money advice services and credit unions to improve financial know-how and provide
access to relevant financial services.

Supporting Strategies

The Housing Strategy has strong links to the Wolverhampton Economic Development
Strategy (2009-26)1 and the Local Development Framework, which underpin the City
Strategy. Future economic prosperity is a fundamental goal of the City Strategy because
many of the City’s other ambitions depend on a strong economy, and the economic
elements of the City’s vision are detailed in the Economic Development Strategy.

The overall land use strategy for the City up to 2026 is set out in the Black Country Core
Strategy2, which forms a key part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) for the
City. The LDF is the spatial expression of the City Strategy and central to place-shaping,
bringing together economic, social and environmental aims. The LDF also includes Area
Action Plans which are now underway for Stafford Road, the City Centre and Bilston

The Housing Strategy priorities and actions will be supported by and delivered through
the following strategies and plans:

      •    The Wolverhampton Local Investment Plan: 2010-2014 (on-going review) -
           sets out the joint investment priorities of Wolverhampton City Council and the
           Homes and Communities Agency (see below).

      •    Wolverhampton Homes and                           Wolverhampton      City   Council   Asset
           Management Strategy: 2009-13

    Can be viewed at: www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/business/partnership/plans.htm
    Can be viewed at: http://blackcountrycorestrategy.dudley.gov.uk/

•   Wolverhampton Homes Financial Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan

•   Wolverhampton Housing Support and Social Inclusion Strategy: 2010-2015
    (draft) - focuses on how the needs of Wolverhampton residents can be met in
    order for them to gain or maintain independence and social inclusion.

•   Every Adult Matters (2009) - provides a strategic framework for adult social care
    in Wolverhampton to support adults’ independence, well-being, choice and quality
    of life.

•   Wolverhampton’s Strategy for Older People – produced by the City Council
    and Wolverhampton City NHS Primary Care Trust

•   Wolverhampton Homelessness Strategy (2010 draft) - provides a vision and
    framework to assist in the implementation of quality services for people who are
    homeless or at risk of homelessness within Wolverhampton.

•   Wolverhampton Affordable Warmth Strategy (2006) – a strategy and action
    plan to tackle fuel poverty

•   Black and Minority Ethnic Housing Action Plan: 2007-10 – an action plan
    developed following research and consultation on the housing needs and
    aspirations of BME communities, aiming to ensure BME residents receive
    equitable, accessible and culturally appropriate housing and housing services.

•   Wolverhampton Private Sector Housing Strategy (2010 draft) – provides a
    clear framework for Wolverhampton’s approach to owner occupied and private
    rented properties across the City

•   Wolverhampton Empty Property Strategy: 2010-15 – a strategy and action
    plan to tackle a range of issues related to empty private housing


                                        Our Priorities

•     We will work to create attractive, safe and sustainable neighbourhoods, particularly
      in spatial priority areas

•     We will work to bring all social homes up to a decent standard and to improve the
      condition of private homes significantly, particularly in spatial priority areas

•     We will work to minimise the number of long term empty homes

•     We will make more private homes available for households that are homeless or in
      housing need

•     We will improve the management standards of private rented homes

•     We will adopt energy efficiency measures when undertaking repairs and
      improvements to social homes, and encourage homeowners and landlords to do the

•     We will secure high quality new homes which achieve our ambitions for private and
      affordable housing, focused in spatial priority areas

•     We will work to create attractive, safe and sustainable neighbourhoods, particularly
      in spatial priority areas

Neighbourhoods provide a setting for existing and new homes and can influence
people’s life chances and well being. Attractive neighbourhoods which are well designed
and managed and support integrated communities offer greater opportunities both for
individuals and for wider economic prosperity. Such places are more likely to be
successful and attractive to new residents.

Good quality places need to be planned and include a number of key elements:

•     A mix of housing to meet needs and support ambition
•     Appropriate infrastructure – including physical, social and green infrastructure
•     Accessible, inclusive, interesting neighbourhood designs that support green lifestyles
•     Well-managed, safe and secure, public realm
•     High quality, sustainable housing design

Improvements to existing housing and new developments should be designed to work
together to create neighbourhoods that are desirable, well integrated, environmentally
friendly, safe and well managed. It is important that neighbourhoods are designed to
facilitate the development of social networks, with high quality shared spaces and strong
transport links to places of work.

Sustainable Design and Infrastructure

High quality, sustainable housing design can improve Wolverhampton’s housing offer
and help mitigate the effects of climate change. We have pursued and secured Code for
Sustainable Homes Level 3 on housing renewal schemes for a number of years and the
majority of affordable housing built in recent years has also met Lifetime Homes
standard. The City has achieved national recognition for the Cross Street South Eco-
home scheme.

Black Country Core Strategy policies require renewable energy provision, sustainable
drainage and environmental infrastructure provision to support new development. Local
authorities are required to plan ahead for the infrastructure requirements that accompany
new housing to ensure that existing facilities are not overstretched when additional
housing is built, and to support green lifestyles (cycle paths, public transport, waste
management, etc).

Housing Offer for Graduates and Young Professionals

Encouraging skilled and qualified people to live in the City is essential to support
economic aims. A skilled and qualified workforce will attract businesses to the City and
will spend their higher earnings in Wolverhampton, keeping wealth within the City. A
large proportion of these people are new graduates and young professionals.

A large number of Wolverhampton’s university and college students currently move to
other parts of the country to find jobs. As young people are more mobile than older
people it is important to attract them before they settle down. Housing is an important
element of the City’s offer to these individuals – other elements include the night-time
economy, availability of jobs and opportunities and the quality of the retail offer.

Poor Quality Neighbourhoods

A lack of investment in private homes can contribute to the decline of whole
neighbourhoods, particularly where there are concentrations of low quality, short term
private renting. A number of these neighbourhoods fall within or near to spatial priority
areas and intervention is needed to prevent the poor quality of these neighbourhoods
from undermining regeneration.

•     To incorporate neighbourhood and sustainable design measures into the Local
      Development Framework and set out how the infrastructure requirements of new
      housing will be planned and delivered
•     To develop the housing offer of locations potentially attractive to new graduates and
      young professionals, in consultation with Wolverhampton College and University
•     To pursue measures to improve the living conditions and housing offer in Park
      Village, following the Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment process
•     To target selected private housing areas to drive up standards through measures
      including: providing advice to landlords; considering selective licensing of the private
      rented sector; improvements to frontages and external street scene


• We will work to bring all social homes up to a decent standard and to significantly
  improve the condition of private homes, particularly in spatial priority areas

• We will improve the management standards of private rented homes

Existing homes are a huge resource - 85% of the housing that will exist in
Wolverhampton in 2026 has already been built. Good quality housing supports good
health and is also part of what makes a place good to live in and economically
competitive. Well-targeted spending on existing housing can provide significant value for
money, reducing the cost of health services, tenancy failure, crime, residential care and
homelessness services – and also reducing carbon emissions and tackling fuel poverty.
It is essential that improvements to existing stock support regeneration programmes in
spatial priority areas.

The Council has direct responsibilities for the 21,700 social homes managed by
Wolverhampton Homes, and the 2,300 managed by Tenant Management Organisations,
to ensure they are well maintained and used effectively. There is a national target to
ensure that all social homes meet the Decent Homes standard. Work is in progress to
achieve this standard in Wolverhampton by 2015. 8,900 properties have been made
decent since 2007 and over 3,000 have received works to stop them becoming non-
decent – reducing the proportion of social homes which are non-decent to around 40%.
Government funding will meet two thirds of the cost of the further works required. Local
funding will need to be found to meet the gap of around £26m.

The low incomes and declining economic circumstances of many residents in the City
means that there is little scope for them to invest in their homes, and much of the older
housing in the City fails the Decent Homes standard.

The private rented sector has a very important role to play in meeting high levels of
housing need in the City. This role looks set to increase as more homes are rented out or
repossessed because of housing market conditions. This means that good management
in this sector will become increasingly important.

The Partnership is currently pursuing a complementary range of private housing
interventions, which require a mix of revenue and capital funding. Revenue funds
proactive activities such as increasing enforcement, accreditation and licensing
programmes in the private rented sector. Capital investment, such as repayable grants
and loans, is required to enable owners to bring their homes up to the Decent Homes
standard when no other option is available.

•   To complete the Decent Homes programme for social homes by 2015
•   To encourage owners to invest in their properties to improve decency standards, for
    example, through loans and equity release, marketing Home Improvement Agency
    services and offering Decent Homes loans to owners of Right to Buy properties
•   To introduce a landlord / property accreditation scheme and actively encourage all
    landlords in the City to become accredited and work in partnership with the Council
Empty Homes

•   We will work to minimise the number of long term empty homes

•   We will make more private homes available for households that are homeless or in
    housing need

Around 2600 private homes in Wolverhampton have been empty for 6 months or longer.
Many empty properties fall into disrepair and blight the local neighbourhood. Even when
kept in good repair, they are a wasted resource, and could be used to accommodate
those who are homeless or in housing need. Every empty home brought back into use
will generate funds through the New Homes Bonus in future years and these funds can
be reinvested to tackle empty housing further.

•   To bring 200 long-term empty properties back into use every year – focusing on
    spatial priority areas and areas where empty homes threaten to undermine the local
    housing market
•   To introduce a Private Sector Leasing Scheme and encourage private landlords with
    empty homes to join the scheme


• We will adopt energy efficiency measures when undertaking repairs and
  improvements to homes, and will encourage homeowners and landlords to do the

Existing homes account for 27% of all carbon emissions and so increasing the energy
efficiency of homes is a key way to mitigate the effects of climate change. Poor energy
efficiency is also a cause of fuel poverty, which is a major issue for many
Wolverhampton residents. Making sure people can keep warm is a priority for
Wolverhampton - a lack of efficient heating is the main factor causing non-decency in
private homes.

The Partnership delivers Government and local programmes for affordable warmth - 200
Affordable Warmth Grants were delivered in 2009/10 and over 400 referrals were made
to the Health through Warmth scheme. Programmes are tailored to different tenures and
the differing ability of owners to pay. Those who are ‘able to pay’ are encouraged and
incentivised to take action and those who are unable to pay are assisted. Insulating
homes is a priority as it is relatively cheap and effective. Actions target both affordable
warmth and energy efficiency where possible, for example, making sure homes where
central heating is installed are properly insulated.

This activity can be area-based to ensure coordination with other improvement and
regeneration programmes and to target investment and activity at deprived areas that
typically lack modern heating systems and adequate insulation. For example, eco-retrofit
for older stock is being piloted as part of the All Saints housing renewal scheme. Certain
properties can also be targeted, such as those identified through thermal imaging.

For social homes, sustainable and low carbon technologies can be cost effective if
“whole life” costs are taken into account when undertaking repairs, maintenance,
improvements and redevelopment.

•     To continue to deliver the affordable warmth strategy to reduce fuel poverty
•     To promote energy efficiency initiatives to particular groups and neighbourhoods,
      including households eligible for wider home improvements
•     To continue to develop best practice examples of sustainable housing in the social
      sector, including the All Saints eco-retrofit pilot, and promote these to the private
•     To adopt the principle of whole life costing for social housing maintenance,
      improvements and redevelopment


• We will secure high quality new homes which achieve our ambitions for private and
  affordable housing, focused in spatial priority areas

Building new homes is a way of slowly changing the shape of the City’s housing offer to
contribute to its long term success. It is important to use up-to-date evidence to
understand people’s needs, aspirations and what they can afford, and to use the
planning and funding systems to influence development activity.

How Many Homes do we Need?

We anticipate growth of around 11% in the number of households between 2006 – 2026,
driven by a significant increase in the number of people living alone and a 3% increase in
population. The Black Country Core Strategy target for Wolverhampton is to build
13,400 new homes between 2006 and 2026 to accommodate these households. 1,340
additional homes were built during 2006-10 and there is a requirement to provide 720
extra homes every year up to 2016. The Wolverhampton Strategic Housing Land
Availability Assessment (Dec 2010) identifies sufficient deliverable housing sites to
provide 4,700 homes by 2016, 9% above this requirement.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) identifies a need for 621 extra
general purpose affordable homes each year, and additional need for affordable
specialist accommodation. However, it has never been possible to meet this level of
need and the Core Strategy sets a target for the Black Country which equates to an
average of 115 affordable homes3 per year for Wolverhampton. On average, 126 new
affordable homes per year have been secured since 1998, using a combination of grant,
free and subsidised land and developer contributions. In 2009/10 we built 131 new
affordable homes and secured an additional 32 affordable homes through assisted home
ownership. The majority were 2 bedroom flats and bungalows, around half were
supported housing and almost all were ultimately for rent.

Promoting New Housing

Since mid 2007 the housing market has slowed, which has reduced housing construction
in Wolverhampton. However, our strong partnership with the Homes and Communities
Agency through the Single Conversation and Local Investment Plan (LIP) offers great
potential for building new homes. The LIP sets out spatial priorities for large-scale
investment in housing development and regeneration, identified though an integrated
approach that considers economic development, regeneration, transport and housing

    Definition of affordable is set out in the Wolverhampton UDP at: www.cartoplus.co.uk/wolverhampton_2

Area Action Plans will be drawn up for three spatial priority areas: Stafford Road; Bilston
Corridor; and Wolverhampton City Centre. These will be key to driving forward delivery
of new housing. Local Neighbourhood Partnerships will be fully engaged in decisions
about developments, regeneration schemes, and plans for their local area.

During the housing market downturn it is important to stimulate the market and bring
forward stalled sites. The HCA Kickstart programme has helped to tackle a number of
stalled developments in the City, including Showell Park housing renewal area in Low
Hill, bringing forward 50 new homes, and the private sector Claremont site (former
Bilston Girls School), Bilston. Each home created will generate New Homes Bonus in
future years, and these funds can be reinvested to help promote further new housing.

Budget cuts will more than halve HCA funding and Council funding will also be
significantly reduced over this period. Therefore, in future, it is important to consider
innovative delivery mechanisms, such as joint ventures, and explore a range of tenures,
such as sub-market rent and developer shared equity products – aiming to find the best
solution for each specific site, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

Mix of Housing to Meet Needs and Support Ambition

Every new housing development is an opportunity to support better integration and
cohesion. It is important that the mix of new homes provided on each site, in terms of
type, size and tenure, supports the developing identity and function of the neighbourhood
in the context of Wolverhampton’s vision, and helps improve the overall mix of housing in
the wider area. The Core Strategy aims to achieve 25% affordable housing on private
housing sites. Table 1 provides home type targets for new affordable and market homes.

Table 1 Home Type Targets
             1 bed flats   2 bed flats,        3 bed houses   4 & 5 bed 5      bed
                           bungalows or                       houses    houses
Affordable   <5%           <30%                >50%                      >15%
Market       5%            20%                 45%            25%           5%

The SHMA found that, for affordable homes, the priority is to provide 3 and 4+ bedroom
houses, which are needed by over-crowded families but are rarely released for re-letting.
However, smaller units are also needed for older people and those with special needs, to
replace flats and bungalows that have been demolished and to provide a mix of home
types on larger developments.

It is also important to develop more 3+ bedroom market houses in the City to provide a
better mix of house sizes in some areas and to meet the aspirations of professionals with
families. This is in accordance with the Black Country Core Strategy target that 40% of
new housing built in each authority area should be designed to accommodate 3 or more

persons. 1 bedroom market flats will be limited to sites where there is no reasonable
alternative or developments meeting a specialist need, as they are typically suited to a
very limited proportion of the population.

The Area Action Plans will set specific targets for housing type, size and tenure up to
2026 which reflect local circumstances and site conditions, and will contribute towards
meeting overall Wolverhampton targets.

New Homes for Vulnerable and Minority Groups

Wolverhampton has an aging population. We want older people to continue to feel that
they are still have an important place in our communities as they age and their needs
change. It is important to plan ahead to provide housing options and support services
that suit different older people and enable them to live fulfilling lives. Developing a better
understanding of older people’s views and requirements for housing and support / care
needs can help inform long-term planning and enable the Council and partners to
respond more readily to individuals.

We know that bungalows, and flats with attractive features such as two bedrooms and
gardens, are popular with older people. Traditional sheltered housing schemes with on-
site wardens are an ineffective way of targeting support services. However, very
sheltered housing has been successfully used in Wolverhampton and is popular with
residents, offering more freedom and independence than residential care, and providing
support and social opportunities for other members of the community. Building
affordable homes to Lifetime Homes Standard will also help to make new dwellings more
accessible for people with support requirements.

Wolverhampton is working in partnership with neighbouring local authorities to make
planned provision for gypsy and traveller accommodation in accordance with need, as
reflected in targets set out in the Black Country Core Strategy. Locations for new sites in
Wolverhampton will be identified in Area Action Plans.

•   To support private and affordable housing developers to speed up development and
    restart stalled schemes
•   To continue to explore new models for developing housing and new forms of
    affordable housing
•   To guide the mix and layout of new housing to support Wolverhampton’s vision and
    meet varied needs
•   To coordinate partners’ investment programmes for priority areas through the LIP and
    Area Action Plans
•   To investigate ways of using the New Homes Bonus to fund and promote housing-
    related actions


                                    Our Priorities

• We will work with communities and partners to develop our understanding of the
  housing market, housing needs, preferences and service experiences, and to develop
  and share our priorities

• We will ensure that the needs of vulnerable and minority groups are fully taken into
  account in the development of strategies and services

• We will provide good quality information on housing services and options to empower
  people to make the best housing choices at different times of their lives

• We will continue to promote and develop housing choice across Wolverhampton
  through Homes in the City, a city–wide system for letting homes

• We will increase the options available for overcrowded households and make more
  efficient use of social homes

• We will work with partners and the development industry to help local people access
  training and jobs in housing related industries

• We will promote financial inclusion for disadvantaged communities and tackle child
  poverty, which affects one third of children in the City

• We will give vulnerable people a choice of support to enable them to remain in their
  homes and live active, independent lives for longer

• We will identify ways to help asylum seekers, refugees and economic migrants
  integrate into local communities

• We will prevent homelessness by providing advice and housing options, targeting
  young people and those at risk of losing their home

• We will provide homeless people with access to settled accommodation and ensure
  they can access services quickly and easily


Strategies Based on Evidence
•     We will work with communities and partners to develop our understanding of the
      housing market, housing needs, preferences and service experiences, and to
      develop and share our priorities
The Housing Strategy is informed by national and sub-regional priorities, local identified
needs, demands and aspirations, and a broad understanding of housing market issues.
The C3 (Black Country, South Staffs, Cannock and Telford) Strategic Housing Market
Assessment4, the Wolverhampton Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment
(SHLAA)5 and the Private Sector Stock Condition Survey6 are key sources of evidence.
Service user views are also collected and analysed on a regular basis.

It is important that this evidence base is kept up-to-date, providing a rigorous basis for
updates to strategies and action plans. Partners, stakeholders, service users and local
communities need to be continuously engaged throughout this process, as they have a
number of key roles to play: providing information for the evidence base; contributing to
the development of strategies; and delivering actions.

•     To develop effective systems for ongoing engagement with the full range of partners,
      stakeholders and local communities
•     To update housing needs and housing market evidence and research the likely
      impacts of budget cuts on those in housing need, and use this evidence to inform
      future investment decisions

•     To research the requirements of people needing support, using the information to
      inform plans for meeting housing and support needs

Equal Access to Services

•     We will ensure that the needs of vulnerable and minority groups are fully taken into
      account in the development of strategies, policies and programmes

It is important that all strategies and services specifically consider and address the needs
of vulnerable and minority groups, particularly older people, those with learning
difficulties, gypsies and travellers and the BME community.                 Equality Impact


Assessments are carried out on all new or changing policies and strategies to highlight
any necessary actions.

The BME Housing Action Plan concluded that housing issues for the growing BME
population are similar to the indigenous population – housing affordability and the quality
of the private rented sector. However, there is a need for the Council and its partners to
be more open and inclusive, making sure services are understood and accessible to
BME residents, and creating a more level playing field in terms of access to homes and
housing services.

•     To adopt an Equality Impact Assessment approach to strategy and action plan


To become a City where people can thrive, we will continue to provide types of support
that empower people – helping them to avoid crises, providing them with information,
choice and opportunity and balancing their rights and responsibilities.

Access to Housing Information

• We will provide good quality information on housing services and options to empower
  people to make the best housing choices at different times of their lives

Appropriate information and advice on the range of housing options, coordinated with
other types of advice such as financial and routes into training and employment, will
enable more people to find housing options that suit them and help them to adapt to
changes in their personal circumstances before they reach crisis point.

Access to information and advice is particularly important when the range of options for
meeting housing requirements at different times of life is getting broader and more
complex. Also, particular groups of people have specific information requirements - for
example young people and BME groups, including asylum seekers and refugees.

•     To establish a new housing information and advice service that is accessible to local
      people, including BME communities and young people, and to those looking to move
      to the City
•     To develop a specialist housing-related information and advice service for asylum
      seekers, refugees and economic migrants

Housing Choice

• We will continue to promote and develop housing choice across Wolverhampton
  through Homes in the City, a city–wide system for letting homes

• We will increase the options available for overcrowded households and make more
  efficient use of social homes

Our successful choice-based lettings scheme, Homes in the City, allows scope for
individuals to express and meet their housing aspirations. Wolverhampton has relatively
high levels of over-crowding compared to the national average, particularly among BME
households7. However, significant numbers of people living in social homes are under-
occupying – many of these are older people whose families have grown up and who may
want a smaller home. There is scope for matching larger households with larger social
homes, for example, by encouraging people who are under-occupying to down-size
through assistance with moving.

•      To develop the use of Homes in the City for managing lettings for Housing
       Associations and some private providers
•      To develop and market advice / incentives for households who are under-occupying
       to help them move to suitable smaller homes, and to inform overcrowded / homeless
       households about their options
•      To actively source larger private rented homes through private landlord partnerships,
       and publicise these through Homes in the City

Helping People to Access Training and Jobs

•       We will work with partners and the development industry to help local people access
        training and jobs in housing related industries

The Economic Development Strategy sets out plans to enhance Wolverhampton’s
employment offer to benefit all citizens. This includes improving the prospects of people
who have been unemployed for many years and young people growing up in households
where parents are not in work.

Social home providers have a significant role to play in tackling worklessness and
developing skills because they are employers who are able to help directly in providing
local jobs.    Similarly, they have an understanding of the issues attached to
unemployment as workless people of working age are heavily represented as residents
of social homes.

    Wolverhampton City Council Black and Minority Ethnic Housing Action Plan, 2007-10

•   To adopt procurement policies which promote employment and training of local
•   To research existing work by housing providers on training and develop a programme
    in support of the Employment and Skills Delivery Plan
•   To secure a personalised training programme to improve the employment prospects
    of unemployed social housing residents and every young person living in a workless
    household or leaving care

Supporting Financial Inclusion

• We will promote financial inclusion for disadvantaged communities and tackle child
  poverty, which affects one third of children in the City

Children and young people growing up in poverty and in poor quality housing are half as
likely to achieve well in school as their counterparts. This means that they are ill-
equipped to get the type of jobs which will help them and their children to get out of
poverty. Families in poverty are more likely to suffer poor health and other poorer
outcomes as adults.

There are a number of elements to financial inclusion including money advice, access to
bank accounts and affordable credit. The need for financial inclusion work has increased
as a result of the recent recession and difficulties in the mortgage and housing market,
which are leaving more people vulnerable to financial difficulties and to door-step

Social home providers accommodate some of the most deprived people and have a
business interest in helping people to be in a position to pay their rent. Many also see
promoting financial inclusion as part of their wider role.

•   To ensure every resident of a social home has access to financial inclusion advice,
    assistance and financial products

Providing Care and Support

• We will give vulnerable people a greater choice of support to enable them to remain
  in their homes and live active, independent lives for longer

Some residents need particular types of support or care to enable them to live
independently. The Council is moving towards an approach that will give clients more
choice in the services they receive, in line with the Government’s Putting People First

agenda. Floating support will become the primary delivery model for older people and
others requiring support.

•   To develop the Neighbourhood Support Service to provide floating support for older
    people living in all tenures, following a pilot in Boscobel, Graiseley, Parkfields and
    The Scotlands
•   To align the Council’s home adaptations programme to ‘Putting People First’,
    allowing individuals to choose adaptations alongside other support options as a
    means of maintaining independence

Helping New Communities to Integrate

• We will identify ways to help asylum seekers, refugees and economic migrants
  integrate into local communities

Helping new communities to integrate with established communities is key to promoting
community cohesion. There has been a relatively high population of asylum seekers
living in certain areas of the City in recent years. Asylum seekers, refugees and
economic migrants can be vulnerable and require access to advice and information to
help address integration problems, but they may also have untapped skills which could
benefit the community. Having large transient populations can also be destabilizing to
existing neighbourhoods.

A number of international migrant groups have moved to parts of Wolverhampton in
recent years, in particular from countries such as Poland and Lithuania that have
recently joined the EU. Although we have some information about these new migrant
groups, particularly those who have come here to work, we need to improve our
understanding of these groups in order to help them to integrate into their local

•   To undertake research to develop a greater understanding of the asylum seeker,
    refugee and economic migrant communities in Wolverhampton
•   To develop a specialist housing-related information and advice service for asylum
    seekers, refugees and economic migrants

Tackling Homelessness

• We will prevent homelessness by providing advice and housing options, targeting
  young people and those at risk of losing their home

• We will provide homeless people with access to settled accommodation and ensure
  they can access services quickly and easily

Homelessness is costly and is detrimental to people’s livelihoods. The Council has a
statutory duty to prevent and deal with homelessness, to provide advice and information,
and to provide accommodation to those who are in priority need. Partners have
responsibilities to support the Council in meeting its obligations. Homelessness has
been a significant problem in Wolverhampton but is now at its lowest level for 5 years as
a result of many successful interventions, including the rent bond scheme and mortgage
rescue products for which Wolverhampton is the leading exponent in the region.
However, the number of people accessing homeless advice services has increased
recently and there is a concern that pressure on services will also increase.

The main current causes of homelessness are domestic violence, end of short hold
assured tenancy and parents being unable or unwilling to accommodate young people.
There is an over-representation of BME people presenting as homeless. A need has
been identified for more treatment-based and specialist hostel type accommodation in
the City to support between 20 and 30 individuals at any one time and move on
accommodation for those who have previously been homeless.

•   To continue to promote the rent bond and mortgage rescue schemes
•   To provide a physical one-stop-shop for services for homeless people, including
    culturally specific services and information for BME communities
•   To provide more “move on” accommodation for homeless people, including re-
    allocation of general needs accommodation and use of the Private Sector Leasing
•   To support households to move from temporary to settled accommodation,
    particularly young people and offenders



The Wolverhampton Strategic Housing Partnership will be tasked with:

     • ensuring delivery of the Housing Strategy and Action Plan

     • promoting closer partnership working

     • taking part in and reporting to the wider Local Strategic Partnership

     • establishing project teams to deliver key actions and monitoring their progress

     • directing a ‘continuous conversation’ with the Local Neighbourhood Partnerships

     • monitoring overall performance against priorities and actions

Day to day responsibilities for managing delivery

Day to day management of delivery and performance will be undertaken by the Council,
which will provide regular reports to the Partnership. Project teams, including wider
interests such as businesses, education and skills, will take responsibility for the delivery
of key actions.

Partnership arrangements

In order to deliver the Housing Strategy and Action Plan the WSHP needs to engage
with a wider range of partners including private developers, banks and building societies.
The Partnership will review the way that the Council and partners work together with a
view to establishing closer working partnerships. The aim will be to create the conditions
in which partners will benefit by aligning their activities to the Housing Strategy priorities
and actions.

Closer partnership working will be based around the following principles:

•    Engagement – to engage a wide range of partners through a range of mechanisms

•    Awareness – shared awareness of the strategic direction and activities of partners
     and of the City’s vision

•    Trust – building and maintaining trust between all partners operating locally

•    Commitment – to the City-wide priorities in the Housing Strategy

•    Win-wins – looking for opportunities to align partners’ aspirations with the City’s vision

•       Relevance – making sure the right partners are involved in the right project at the
        right time

•       Delivery – making things happen on the ground quickly

•       Flexibility – allowing systems and services to develop as appropriate

•       Accountability – ensuring organizations support delivery of the Housing Strategy and
        are not acting counter to its delivery, especially where public money is involved

The Role of Local Neighbourhood Partnerships

Wolverhampton’s Local Neighbourhood Partnerships (LNPs) will be connected to
delivery of the Housing Strategy and Action Plan through representation on the
Partnership and involvement in development of strategies, policies, plans and

The LNPs, supported by social housing providers, will be responsible for holding a
continuing conversation with residents about aspects of delivery. This conversation will
be set within the context of the vision for Wolverhampton, and will support the
development of different places in different ways so that every neighbourhood is enabled
to develop its identity and to contribute to driving Wolverhampton forward.

This on-going conversation between the WSHP and Wolverhampton’s residents will
ensure that:

(i)        the Partnership has a means of communicating the City’s vision to residents

(ii)       residents have a means of articulating their feelings and of shaping housing
           outcomes in their neighbourhoods, in line with the City’s vision

(iii)      the Partnership can hear and respond to residents’ views and concerns and
           adjust their activity accordingly


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