East Lothian Council's Cabinet has approved a new Housing Allocations Policy.
A full consultation of council tenants, applicants and stakeholders was carried out on changes to the existing Housing Allocations Policy. There was significant majority support for each of the proposed changes.
Councillor Jim Goodfellow, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The council has had a group and points allocations policy since 2007, following a major review of the previous policy at that time. This policy has helped the council to deliver positive outcomes for many on the housing list, has given applicants more choice, supported high tenancy sustainment levels, reduced refusal rates, and in turn, has helped with the quicker turnaround of empty houses.
“Following best practice, the policy is reviewed regularly and some small changes have been made over the last few years. This latest review has been more significant and was required to align with changes set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 for introduction this year. Changes made ensure our policy is as fair as it can be, is up to date and is also in line with the government’s homelessness legislation.”
The key aspects of the revised policy agreed at Cabinet are:
- An increase in the level of overcrowding points awarded when there are two children of different sex currently sharing a bedroom, one of whom is aged 10 years or over.
- Additional overcrowding points where a bedroom is being shared but is deemed to be only large enough for one person.
- A flat rate of points for all applicants who are unintentionally homeless. This removes extra points according to the reason for homelessness, meaning that applications are dealt with according to the date registered – removing the possibility of newer applications being dealt with before an older application.
- Home ownership by applicants will now be taken into account by the council.
- Increased powers to suspend applicants providing false statements and those acting in an antisocial manner.
- The removal of insecurity points for applicants in a new private residential tenancy agreement, entered into on or after 1st December 2017, which provides a greater level of security for renters.
- Increased surety for those serving in military employment and veterans under the Armed Forces Community Covenant, ensuring that service personnel & their families are not disadvantaged.
As well as agreeing to the proposed changes to the allocation policy, Cabinet also agreed to an implementation date of 1st May 2019.