Katesgrove Councillor Sophia James asks question about housing waiting list

Sophia James, one of Katesgrove’s councillors and chair of the housing, neighbourhoods and leisure committee, asked a question at Wednesday 18 October’s council meeting about the council’s housing register.

Can the lead councillor for housing please tell me about the progress of the review of the council’s housing register and the number of people currently registered as waiting for social housing?

The lead councillor for housing, Councillor Davies, thanked Councillor Eden (sic) for her question and responded that a full re-registration exercise had taken place for all applications on the waiting list as part of the transfer of data to a new housing allocations IT system. He went on to explain that

it is good practice for all local authorities to ensure that the information from applicants on their housing register is up to date and accurate. Whilst all applicants are regularly advised to update their applications with any changes of circumstance, many fail to do so, which means information held on the housing register can quickly become out of date and the priority given to their applications may become inaccurate. As a result, from time to time a wholesale re-registration of applicants has to be carried out.

The lead councillor reported that the exercise had reduced the numbers on the housing register. In September 2016 there were 5,207 households on the housing register.  Of those who had not re-registered, 88% had no housing priority or were in the very low priority band E.

Housing need is classified in six bands, where band A is the highest priority:

Band A: emergency need to move.
Band B: urgent need to move
Band C: intermediate need to move.
Band D: moderate need to move.
Band E: low level need to move.
No priority for housing.

Councillor Davies added that:

Officers attempted to contact all of those in bands A to C (who had failed to re-register) by telephone to speak to applicants in person to ensure that they understood the process, and to encourage those in need to register. A wide range of internal and external services were also contacted to advise them of the process so that they could encourage applicants to respond and assist those that are vulnerable. Support was also available to applicants with filling out forms from a number of sources.

As a result of the exercise, 2,878 households were registered in housing need, of which 1,213 were in bands in A-D and 385 were homeless.

In reply to a question in January 2016 from Councillor Josh Williams about the numbers of people or families on the waiting list, Councillor Davies had responded that there were 10,267 households on the housing list on 1 November 2015.

This means that between November 2015 and September 2016 the waiting list had reduced by 5,060 households, or 49%, from 10,267 to 5,207.

Before he was declared out of time, Councillor Davies suggested that…

…the low return rate from those with little or no priority is likely to be as a result of applicants having not obtained social housing over a number of years and repeated media publicity on housing both locally and nationally confirming that there is very limited social housing available (and little likelihood of being accommodated through this route therefore).


Links

  1. Council meeting 18 October 2016
  2. Council meeting webcast 18 October 2016
  3. Questions from Councillors 18 October 2016
  4. Register for housing
  5. Questions from Councillors 26 January 2016
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