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Pilot project over social housing letting system is ‘encouraging’
A pilot project to look at an alternative social housing lettings system in one part of the district is proving a success, councillors have been told.
The joint Bradford Council and Incommunities scheme has been operating in the Aire-Wharfe area since April and includes changes to the needs bandings currently used by the housing organisation.
Initial feedback from the trial has shown a higher proportion of lettings going to those in greatest need, reduced bureaucracy and housing solutions being provided quicker.
It is thought that the full outcome of the pilot will be known in the next few weeks, which will then feed in to the Council’s ongoing allocations review.
The policy was last altered in 2009 but since then there have been changes including new guidance to housing allocations and new welfare measures, bringing about a need for an update.
It is hoped the review will enable better management of waiting lists, promote mobility for existing social tenants, meet local need and circumstances, ensure social homes go to those in greatest need, and take into account Government policy changes and welfare reform.
The existing policy for social housing in the district is a choice-based lettings scheme, which operates a four-band system ranking from urgent need for housing to no specific needs.
Although the system is said to have worked well in Bradford, it is believed to have its limitations, and the pilot scheme aims to try to address some of these weaknesses.
Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s executive member with responsibility for housing, said: “In the pilot, amendments were made to the needs banding using factors noted as ‘preferences’ in the new allocations guidance from Government.
“Customers assessed as being in need are matched directly to a property by an Incommunities officer. Properties that are not directly matched are advertised through a ‘property shop’ system located in the Keighley Incommunities office, and on their website. Properties are allocated following a needs assessment on a first-come-first-served basis for any applications eligible for the property, with applicants needing to express their interest either in person or via telephone.”
An Incommunities spokesman said: “The pilot differs from the Choice Based Lettings system operating in the rest of the district by offering customers the opportunity to find an available housing association home at a property shop in Keighley. This displays properties offered by a range of social housing providers in the Aire-Wharfe area.”
“The initial results are due in spring 2013,” the spokesman added.