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Agenda item

Housing and Homelessness

Report of the Elections and Members’ Services Officer

Minutes:

Homelessness and Housing – Overview and Scrutiny 25 April

Alison Bennet attended the committee to discuss issues related to the housing and homelessness that fall within Councillor Henry Wheeler’s and Councillor Jenny Hollingsworth’s portfolio.  Specific issues for discussion included:

·                     L1051 Average time to process homeless applications ( number of working days

·                     L1046 Preventing Homelessness – number of households who considered themselves as homeless, who approached the Council, and for whom housing advice resolved their situation

·                     Homeless accommodation provision

·                     Length of time taken for new tenants to be move into empty properties.

·                     NI154 Net additional homes provided

·                     Nl155 Number of affordable homes delivered

·                     Housing development – specifically lack of housebuilding by Gedling Homes and provision of affordable housing in the villages.

 

Jason Canon and Deborah Higgins from Gedling Homes also attended the meeting to support Councillor Hollingsworth.

 

The following points were highlighted:

 

L1051 and L1046 – the target for this indicator has been reduced from 25 to 19 days. 

 

Work around prevention to keep people in their homes is preferable to putting people in temporary accommodation. 

 

Challenges presented by the private rented market include:

 

·         Increased demand which has resulted in rent increases putting levels above the housing benefit limit.

·         Landlords are reluctant to accommodate challenging cases and prefer to let to tenants who are in work.

·         The increasing a requirement to provide a guarantor and a large bond, or deposit, thus pricing some people out of the market.

·         Cuts to the County Council Supporting People budget which has led to a loss of specialist housing provision for people with additional needs for example drug and alcohol issues.

 

In order to maintain tenancies support work has to be available.  This can necessitate a great deal of time and effort to resolve issues but this may not ultimately solve the problem and the tenancy may fail. Demand is growing for rental properties and there are not enough properties for private rent. A change to rents no longer being directly paid to landlords also exacerbates problems in the rental market. Work is undertaken to support and build links with private landlords through the landlord’s forum.

 

The effects of the Housing and Planning Bill resulting in the loss of benefit for the under 25 year olds plus the move to Universal Credit will put additional strain on the Housing Needs section.

Changes to the definition of affordable housing in the Housing and Planning Act has broadened the definition and includes not only properties for rental with affordable rents, but shared ownership schemes, starter homes sold at a discount of at least  20% and  under the Government’s Home Buy scheme the purchase of a newly built home with a 5% deposit. Gedling Borough negotiates to provide a proportion of affordable housing on all new developments of 15 or more properties

When providing additional homes both urban and village locations have to be considered.  For example provision of social housing in Ravenshead was not that successful as people initially didn’t want to move there, and of those that did, a disproportional number then moved away.

The effect of Notts. Healthcare moving people out of supported accommodation into the community will have a knock on effect when all the intermediate housing provision has disappeared.

Currently there are 2,000 homes with planning permission with houses planned for Teal Close, Top Wighay Farm and the Gedling Colliery site.  The Grove development will provide 18 new flats and two, two bedroomed semi-detached properties to be managed by Notts. Community Housing Association, and the disposal of a former play area in Netherfield will provide a further 6 houses for affordable rent. 

Following questions from members the following issues were addressed:

Work is undertaken to bring empty residential properties into use.  Currently 38 properties for social rent are being built on the former Cavendish Pub site on Westdale Lane.

Issues around tenants presenting antisocial behaviour are addressed, initially through initiatives such as starter tenancies, which run for the first 12 months of the tenancy and give the tenant fewer rights, making it easier to evict them, if they breach their tenancy conditions, for example anti-social behaviour.  People with unmet mental health needs are very difficult to evict, as they present with a range of needs, and without specialist support it is very difficult for them to maintain a tenancy. However the statutory duty for Gedling Borough Council is to provide houses and is not to be a social provider, but without a support package in place, many such tenancies will fail.

The landscape of social housing is changing, with significant changes in both the funding which is available and also the type of tenure which will be available in the future, as the focus is now on shared ownership, but few of the 1000+ applications on the Council’s housing register would be able to afford shared ownership, leaving all councils in a very difficult position.  As a result the authority has to make the best use of resources available.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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