Homeseeker Plus Policy Update
To update Members on the legislative changes needed to ensure that the HomeseekerPlus Policy meets the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Allocation of Accommodation standards and reflects the outcome of the stakeholder consultation.
a) Approves the Policy for adoption; and
b) Give approval for the HomeseekerPlus Management Board to:
· Confirm the date for adoption once all partners have approval through their individual authorities governance structure (likely to be early 2022)
· Professionally format the Policy prior to publication
Members received a report from the Housing Manager which updated them on the legislative changes needed to ensure that the HomeseekerPlus Policy met the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Allocation of Accommodation standards and reflected the outcome of the stakeholder consultation.
HomeseekerPlus was a Choice Based Lettings (CBL) scheme run by seven Local Authorities, in partnership with social housing landlords, operating within Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire. Demand for affordable housing within the HomeseekerPlus area was very high and could not be met in its entirety from the available social housing resources.
The Policy explained who was eligible and who qualified to apply on HomeseekerPlus and set out how applications would be assessed and awarded a subsequent Emergency, Gold, Silver or Bronze banding based on housing need. A copy of the 2019 Banding Table was attached at Annex E to the report.
In late 2019, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet approved the suggested changes set out in the 2019 draft Policy, attached at Annex B, and they had agreed that these should be made available for wider consultation. This report outlined the proposed Policy changes that had been consulted upon and set out the legislative reasons for recommending the approval of the final draft of the HomeseekerPlus Policy.
There were a number of further annexes attached to the report, including those noted above and these were as follows:
Annex A – Draft HomeseekerPlus Policy (Pending Formatting)
Annex C – Summary of Proposed Changes HomeseekerPlus Policy 2019
Annex D – Consultation outcome
Annex F – New Banding Table 2021
Annex G – Equalities Impact Assessment
The report asked Cabinet to approve the policy for adoption and requested that the HomeseekerPlus Management Board be given approval to confirm the date for adoption, once all partners had received approval from their authorities, and professionally format the policy prior to publication.
An alternative option was outlined in full at section 10 of the report and detailed the implication of withdrawing from the current HomeseekerPlus Partnership, sourcing the Council’s own Choice Based Letting system and designing its own Policy. It was noted that this would also impact on staffing arrangements, would require a significant financial contribution and extend timescales considerably.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor Davies, introduced the report and explained the reasons for updating the policy. She proposed the recommendations as laid out and these were seconded by Councillor Doughty.
Following a question from Councillor Dingwall, officers confirmed that an applicant was asked to specify a preferred area on the application form, however, this did not restrict them if they wished to register their interest on properties in any area.
Councillor Graham queried if was thought the amendments to the policy would impact on the number of people being accommodated. Officers advised that this report addressed how the Council allocated housing in a fair and transparent manner.
Councillor Davies added that Councillor Graham’s question related to the Strategic Planning area of work and meetings were being held to try to marry the two areas together.
Having considered the report, and having heard from the Members present, the Cabinet
a) The policy be approved for adoption; and
b) Approval be given for the HomeseekerPlus Management Board to:
· confirm the date for adoption once all partners have approval through their individual authorities governance structure (likely to be early 2022); and
· professionally format the policy prior to publication.
- 6 - Homeseeker Plus Policy Update WODC, item 53. PDF 99 KB
- 6 - Annex A HomeseekerPlus Policy Pending Formatting, item 53. PDF 998 KB
- 6 - Annex B - Homeseeker plus draft policy approved for consultation 2019, item 53. PDF 910 KB
- 6 - Annex C - Summary of Proposed changes to Homeseeker Plus Policy 2019, item 53. PDF 311 KB
- 6 - Annex D - Consultation, item 53. PDF 105 KB
- 6 - Annex E - 2019 banding table, item 53. PDF 343 KB
- 6 - Annex F - new banding table, item 53. PDF 39 KB
- 6 - Annex G EIA HomeseekerPlus WODC, item 53. PDF 585 KB