Housing Allocations Policy Review
- Meeting of Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 10th March, 2021 2.00 pm (Item 15.)
Report of the Strategic Director, Growth & Development
This report describes the work undertaken to deliver the new social housing
allocations scheme on time despite Covid-19 pressures. While noting that the new scheme has not yet been in operation long enough for impact to be assessed, the current housing register position is consistent with the new scheme working as intended.
The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director, Growth and Development that described the work undertaken to deliver the new social housing allocations scheme on time despite Covid-19 pressures. While noting that the new scheme had not yet been in operation long enough for impact to be assessed, the current housing register position was consistent with the new scheme working as intended.
The main points and themes within the report included: -
· Providing the context and evidence as to why the Allocations Scheme had needed to be reviewed;
· The objectives in undertaking the review;
· Information on revising the Manchester Move IT system, migration of applications and subsequent training;
· An update on the approach adopted to communications; and
· Impact of pandemic and current position.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -
· Noting the issue of digital exclusion experienced by many residents was it possible for residents to nominate a person to place proxy bids for properties on their behalf;
· Were staff engaging with local Registered Housing Providers to obtain regular feedback on the implementation and experience of the new system;
· Could Members be provided with information on how to use and navigate the system so they could advise residents if approached on the matter; and
· Recognising the significant amount of work that had taken place to deliver the new system and thanking the Executive Member, the Assistant Executive Member, officers and partners for delivering this project.
In response to the specific question regarding proxy bids, the Housing Access Manager stated that there was the ability to do this within Manchester Move and further information on this function would be forwarded to the Member following the meeting,
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration paid tribute to all staff involved with the delivery of the new system, despite the challenges presented by Covid. She advised the Committee that demand on the service remained high and it was anticipated to increase, noting the discussion on the previous agenda item. She described that there had been an increase of 1500 entries onto the register, with 900 of these applications in the highest priority banding emphasising the importance of targeting a scarce resource for the most vulnerable, commenting that the high need compared to the low turnover of available housing.
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration stated that in response to this Manchester was committed to delivering new affordable housing across the city and made reference to the schemes that were in development, all of which was regularly reported to the Economy Scrutiny Committee. She added that work on these projects had continued despite Covid and it was anticipated that they would exceed the target set to deliver affordable housing. She further advised that the Council would be establishing a housing company to build more much needed social and affordable housing by maximising Homes England grants and utilising council owned land.
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration stated that information would be recirculated to the Members regarding navigating the online system, adding that the Frequently Asked Question section on the Manchester Move website was particularly helpful.
The Assistant Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration stated that she also wished to pay tribute to all of the staff across all partners who had worked to implement the Manchester Move system, adding that that this had involved a significant amount of IT work and data migration. She informed the Members that a number of online training and awareness sessions on the new system had been delivered that had been attended by a range of VCSE groups, commenting that these had proven very successful. She stated that an evaluation of the new system and policy would continue to be monitored to measure outcomes against the objectives and ambitions of the new allocations scheme, adding that the Housing Access Board was a forum in which the views and experience of Housing Providers could be obtained.
1. Note that the ability to draw any reasonable conclusions about the effectiveness of the new scheme from the 12-month interim evaluation due at the start of 2022 will be affected by the continuing pandemic and the special measures put in place for the most vulnerable; and
2. Note that the effectiveness of the new scheme will best be evaluated by the planned evaluation after 24 months, at the start of 2023.