UK Government

Communities and Local Government: Healey offers more housing choice for tenants

Press Release   •   Jan 21, 2010 11:05 GMT

More tenants across the country will have a greater say over where they want to live and what housing options are available to them after Housing Minister John Healey today announced over half a million pounds extra funding to create more choice based lettings schemes across the country and expand several others already in place.

The schemes offer tenants greater mobility, choice and flexibility when looking at their housing options enabling them to move across different local authority areas, for example if they were looking to move for a job opportunity.
Since the programme began in 2005 more than £6.5 million has been given to councils to work with housing associations to provide increased choice and mobility for thousands of new and existing social housing tenants. Over 80% Local Authorities across England or 265 Local Authorities, now have a scheme in place or in development and John Healey said that the government remained on target to ensure choice based lettings were rolled out across the whole of the country by the end of this year.

John Healey said;

“Thanks to this funding more councils and housing associations will be able to offer their tenants more choice in where they want to live beyond the traditional boundaries. These schemes mean that local authorities have another tool to manage their waiting lists more effectively, by ensuring each home is matched to tenants more suited to the property.

“This is not just a good deal for local authorities but a good deal for tenants too, enabling those who need to move, perhaps for work, to do so. This comes alongside other measures I have put in place to ensure that social housing is better meeting the needs of communities. I have recently launched guidance for local authorities to ensure fairness in the allocations system as well as a clampdown on housing cheats illegally subletting homes, and I will continue to look at more can be done.”

The successful sub-regional schemes are:

• Allerdale to join the Cumbria scheme
• Barrow-in-Furness to join the Cumbria scheme
• Burnley to join the Pennine Lancashire Scheme
• Lancaster Scheme
• Medway to join the Kent Home Choice Scheme
• Test valley to join the Hampshire Home Choice Scheme
• Sefton and Halton to join the Merseyside Scheme
• Craven and Richmondshire to join the North Yorkshire scheme
• Leicestershire and Rutland Scheme

Today’s announcement comes just weeks after John Healey announced new statutory guidance designed to give councils more freedom and flexibility in the way they allocate their housing, exploding myths and ensuring that people have greater confidence that council homes in their area are allocated fairly.

Notes to editors

1. Communities and Local Government's 5 year housing plan, Sustainable Communities: Homes for All, published on 24 January 2005, set out the Government's plans for taking forward its choice based lettings policy. The aim is to have in place choice nationwide by 2010. The Government wants to build on the existing Department's target - for all local authorities to have adopted CBL by 2010 - by extending choice based lettings to cover, not only local authority and RSL properties, but also shared ownership, low cost home ownership, and properties to rent from private landlords. The Government also wants to develop choice-based lettings schemes on a regional and/or sub-regional basis, recognising that housing markets do not follow local authority boundaries.

2. Communities and Local Government is making available £7 million over five years (2005-2010) to fund new sub-regional and regional CBL schemes. Applicants were invited to submit bids for the fifth round of funding by 9 October 2009. The bidding guidance documentation is available on the Department's website.

3. Sub-regional CBL brings together a number of local authorities and housing associations in schemes which cross local authority boundaries. There are a number of benefits from larger, cross-local authority schemes: they enable partners to share ICT and advertising costs; for Registered Social Landlords (RSL) they cut the costs of being involved in several different schemes; they enable greater regional mobility; they break down artificial boundaries and recognise existing housing and labour markets: and they bring together a larger pool of available housing, giving tenants more choice and helping to ease localised problems of high demand.

4. The schemes proposed in the fifth round of  bidding take into account existing housing market areas, or in some instances cover most or the whole of a county. Local authority partners in the successful schemes are as follows:

EAST MIDLANDS

Leicestershire and Rutland: Introduction of CBL across Blaby; Charnwood; Hinkley and Bosworth; Melton; North West Leicestershire; Oadby and Wigston and Rutland; and joining together with Harborough (one of the country’s first CBL schemes) to create a county-wide scheme.

NORTH WEST

Cumbria: Extension of the scheme funded in rounds three and four to include Allerdale and Barrow-in-Furness

Lancaster: Introduction of CBL across the Lancaster area

Pennine Lancashire: Extension of the scheme funded in round three to include Burnley

Merseyside: Extension to the Merseyside scheme adding Sefton and Halton to the partnership

YORKSHIRE AND HUMBERSIDE

North Yorkshire: Extension of the scheme funded in the third and fourth rounds of the RCF to include Craven and Richmondshire

SOUTH EAST

Kent: Extension of this scheme funded in round one to include Medway

Hampshire Home Choice: Extension of the scheme funded in round one to include Test Valley

5. Fair and flexible: Statutory guidance on social housing allocations for local authorities in England, guidance for councils on housing allocations, was published on 4 December 2009, and can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/allocationsstatutoryguidance

Contacts

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