Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
In the absence of the Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder, the Principal Specialist (People) presented the report, which explained that approval of the Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Allocations Policy, operation of which had begun in May 2011, would ensure that there was greater clarity for households in South Lakeland who were currently registered for social housing or who might register in the future. The proposed Policy would help to ensure that there was a consistent and fair approach amongst registered providers with regard to letting homes in South Lakeland to meet the greatest housing needs. The revisions would meet legislative changes relating to the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and resultant Statutory Guidance. It was expected that the proposed changes would simplify the operation of the policy to the benefit of all who use it and to customers.
At CEX/32 (2020/21), Cabinet had been informed of the detailed consultation which had already taken place, following which a number of changes had been required to the Policy to satisfy legislative change, reduce any ambiguities in the operation of the policy so it was applied consistently and fairly and to ensure greater clarity and simplicity. At that meeting, an approach for local consultation in South Lakeland had been approved in order to provide further opportunity for comments from stakeholders.
Details of the extensive local consultation were provided within the report, the outcome of which had been considered by an Overview and Scrutiny Working Group on 6 July and then by the full Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 17 July 2020, and the Principal Specialist (People) provided details. In response to a request from the Leader, she undertook to collate a copy of the questions raised, together with responses, prior to the Council meeting on 28 July 2020. Also raised by the Leader was the need for a housing training session for all Members.
Attention was drawn to the fact that this was a common Allocations Policy, the Cumbria Choice Based Lettings being a partnership comprising the six housing authorities in Cumbria and eight housing associations, all partners had to seek approval from their respective organisations to enable the revised Policy to be published by September.
The Principal Specialist (People) responded to questions raised by Members, explaining that the Local Connection Policy applied to people with close relatives in the area, as well as those with a need to move into the locality due to employment within the area. She informed Members that the Council’s Housing Options Team worked closely with the Probation Service to find housing solutions for those recently released from prison. The Principal Specialist (People) confirmed that the revised document would have regard to the points mentioned during consultation. She explained that there had been an increase in active applicants for housing due to the impact of Covid-19. With regard to the breakdown of figures and household make-up, she reported that 46% related to single applicants, 16% to couples without children and 38% to families with children, representing approximately 7,592 people in total. The Leader felt that there was need for clarification and clearer language in this regard moving forward and felt that the situation emphasised the need for affordable housing for rent in South Lakeland, adding his disappointment at developers who built less than the 35% target set by the Council.
The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) undertook to ensure that the comments raised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were passed on to the Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Board also that the questions and answers from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 17 July were forwarded to all Members prior to the Council meeting on 28 July 2020.
The Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed. There was no dissent.
RESOLVED – That the draft Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Allocations Policy be recommended to Council for approval.
Reasons for Decision
The proposed amendments to the policy will assist in meeting the Council Plan priority to provide ‘Homes to Meet Need’.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Members could choose not to recommend approval of the amended policy or request many additional or substantive changes. This is not recommended as the updates recommended will provide a clearer policy and one which is responding to legislative changes outlined in 3.3 of the report. If substantial changes are to be considered by the Project Board then this could significantly delay implementation of the revised policy, which could then risk legal challenge by not responding to the legislative change outlined in 3.3 and 7.4 of the report.
Publication date: 24/07/2020
Date of decision: 22/07/2020
Decided at meeting: 22/07/2020 - Cabinet
Effective from: 03/08/2020