Bradford Telegraph and ArgusSocial housing plans 'like a dating service' (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

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Social housing plans 'like a dating service'

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Val Slater, Executive member for housing, planning and transport Councillor Val Slater, Executive member for housing, planning and transport

A new way of allocating social housing in Bradford could get the approval of the Council’s Executive next week.

The proposed method will mean applicants having an initial face-to-face meeting with a housing officer rather than applying over the internet.

Councillor Val Slater, Executive member for housing, planning and transport, said the new Value Based Lettings system was like a “dating service”, compared to the eBay-like Choice Based Lettings system currently used by the Council.

“We are trying to make it easier,” said Coun Slater. “The Choice Based Lettings system is a bit like eBay – they have to make bids via a computer. In my view, that has not worked satisfactorily. And lots of people don’t have access to IT.

“Very often people end up with the top bid, but when they see the property, they don’t like it. It could go down to the fifth bidder before someone gets the house.”

She added: “The new system is more value-based. People will have an initial interview to talk about their opinions and expectations – they will get a better match. It’s a bit like a dating service.”

A Council spokesman said the new system would give many people, including the elderly and vulnerable, a better chance of finding the home they need.

Applicants would work with a housing officer and explore how their choices can be tailored to give them the best chance of finding a home.

The new system will see applicants allocated homes according to one of three priority bands.

The first band – those who are top priority – includes people in statutory need, such as those that are homeless as defined by the Housing Act of 1996.

Those considered in urgent need – including injured former or serving armed forces personnel, people needing to be discharged from hospital, and domestic violence victims – will be in the second band.

The third band, entitled reasonable preference, will be for those in high need of housing. If there is no suitable accommodation in their band immediately they will go on the waiting list.

People who don’t fall into any of the three bands can still register and would be considered for a property if people from the three bands don’t take up a property.

If the new system is approved, it will be operated by the Council and Bradford-based social housing provider Incommunities, with input from other social housing landlords.

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