Housing allocations policy consultation underway

Consultation on proposed changes to the way council houses are allocated in Tamworth is now underway in Tamworth, giving people until the end of August to have their say.

Tamworth Borough Council is reviewing its housing allocations policy and has now launched a major consultation, with letters being sent to all those currently on the housing register, to seek views and feedback on a proposed new draft policy.

The consultation runs until August 30 and no changes will be made to any housing applications at this stage.

The proposed changes aim to more effectively assess and manage the level of housing need in Tamworth.

Investing in more new and affordable housing is a priority for Tamworth Borough Council, but this relies on having a housing register that is robust, up-to-date and identifies those with the most need for affordable housing.

While applicants on the register are ‘banded’ according to their circumstances, anyone can currently put their name down for a council house. As the housing register is not a waiting list, this means it includes people who may never actually be allocated a council property.

The new draft policy aims to ensure the register is made up only of people with an identified need for housing, to give a true reflection of the level of housing need and the type of properties that are in demand.

Reducing and preventing homelessness remains of highest importance and the new proposals would help to ensure those with the highest need are given the appropriate priority to reflect this. At the same time, those in less need will be supported in considering all of their housing options.

Proposals include changes to qualification criteria, new housing bands, the inclusion of financial income thresholds, changes in local connections criteria and changes to circumstances in which applications may be cancelled through non-bidding or refusing properties.

Individual letters have been sent to all applicants currently on the housing register – around 1500 people - explaining how they could be affected by the proposed changes. The letters include information packs summarising all of the proposed changes in detail, as well as a copy of the new draft housing allocations policy summary document, the answers to some anticipated frequently asked questions and a questionnaire.

A full copy of the draft housing allocations policy, FAQs and questionnaire can also be viewed at www.tamworth.gov.uk/consultation.

No changes will be made to any applications at this stage; the consultation is purely to seek initial views and comments on the proposals.

All the feedback received will help shape the policy, which is set to go before Full Council towards the end of the year. If approved, the draft policy, with any revisions required, would be launched soon after.

Cllr Michelle Cook, Tamworth Borough Council Cabinet member for Housing Services and Communities, said: “Currently, anyone can apply to join the Housing Register, whether they have an identified housing need or not, and this makes it difficult to assess the true level of overall demand for affordable housing and the types of properties needed.

“This review presents an opportunity to more effectively assess and manage that need, while continuing to focus on those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“However, it is important to stress that these are just proposals at this stage and we are now entering into an extended period of consultation with those currently on the housing register to explain how they may be affected by any potential changes and to get their views on the plans. A new policy will not be implemented until full consideration has been given to the draft policy and consultation feedback. I would encourage anyone who gets a letter to fill out the questionnaire through the various methods indicated and make their views known.”

Anyone who is currently on the housing register and has not received their letter is urged to contact Tamworth Borough Council on 01827 709709.