Call-in - Housing Allocations Policy
The Cabinet Member for Housing, Head of Housing, Economies and Communities and the Affordable Housing Enablement Manager have been invited to attend.
To follow report added 19.11.20.
The Chairman explained that at the meeting held on 28 October 2020, Cabinet resolved to adopt the Housing Allocations Policy 2020. He said that, as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, he called the decision in for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee for the following reasons:
· The decision was outside the Policy and Budget Framework;
· there was inadequate consultation relating to the decision; and
· relevant information was not considered.
The Chairman advised that, in confirming that the call-in was valid, the Monitoring Officer said that the decision was not outside the Policy and Budget Framework. He welcomed the Cabinet Member for Housing, the Housing Options Manager and the Housing Options Policy and Performance Officer to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Housing said that the policy had been considered previously by the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) and there had been a full public consultation. He said that the public were in favour of the policy with the exception of the proposal to reduce the four year residency requirement to two years, in line with Government guidance and with other Kent authorities. On this part of the policy, 44 respondents were in favour and 49 were against the change. The Cabinet Member for Housing explained that the current policy offered less housing options which led to homelessness and significantly higher costs.
In response to clarification on the information on paragraph 2.4 on page 2 of the report, the Cabinet Member for Housing explained that the choices of a resident, who previously had not qualified for residency requirement, would be expanded by reducing the requirement to 2 years.
In the debate that followed, Members made points, including:
· The original report lacked significant detail which was now explained in the supplementary report provided to the Scrutiny Committee;
· still had concerns about the impact on staff as the impact of the change in policy and possible increase in eligibility could not be known; and
· the Policy brought Swale in line with other authorities, could residents from neighbouring authorities be encouraged to move into Swale to take advantage?
The Cabinet Member for Housing explained that the clock would be reset for anyone moving into Swale from another authority. The Housing Options Policy and Performance Officer detailed the residency requirements of other Kent authorities which varied from 6 months to 3 out of 5 years.
In response to further questions about how the change in the residency policy might increase the current numbers on the list, the Housing Options Policy and Performance Officer explained that there was no detailed breakdown of those on the current list who did not qualify that would then qualify under the new policy. A Member expressed concern about the effect that the changes to the Employment in Swale criteria might have on the figures.
In response to the Chairman’s question on whether there would be a review to assess the impact on costs and officer time in the future, the Cabinet Member for Housing said that the policy was frequently under review due to changes in Government legislation and case law. He said that changes to the Employment in Swale criteria meant that those that worked in Swale might wish to move here.
A Member said there was a lack of clarity on the impact of the changes to the policy and Members discussed reviewing the impact once it had been established. The Chairman proposed that an interim update report be considered by the Scrutiny Committee in 12 months. On being put to the vote, Members agreed.
The Cabinet Member for Housing thanked Members for their fair comments.
(1) That an update report including the impact of the changes be considered by the Scrutiny Committee in 12 months.
- Call in Form -housing allocation policy NOV 20, item 266. PDF 70 KB
- Cabinet 281020 - Housing Allocations Policy REPORT, item 266. PDF 106 KB
- Swale Borough Council Allocations Policy Consultation Report, item 266. PDF 74 KB
- Housing Policy Consultation summary, item 266. PDF 72 KB
- Scrutiny Report HAP 1120 Final (3), item 266. PDF 98 KB
- Allocationspolicy2020FinalCabinet, item 266. PDF 307 KB