East Lothian Council’s Cabinet has agreed allocations targets for council houses for the next year.
Setting targets, and monitoring progress towards meeting those targets, helps the council to meet its legal obligations in regard to providing access to socially-rented housing. It also ensures the council is making best use of its housing stock and working to achieve balanced and sustainable communities.
The targets for 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022 were agreed with no change to the previous year’s targets, which were very close to being met in the last 12 months despite the constraints on house moves due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- 70% from the General Needs Group
- 25% from the Transfer Group
- 5% from the Sustainable Communities Group
Last year’s figures showed 70.93% of allocations to the General Needs Group; 25.6% to the Transfer Group and 3.47% to the Sustainable Communities Group.
Councillor Jim Goodfellow, spokesperson for Housing, said: “Despite the difficulties arising from the pandemic, which meant that less house moves and transfers could take place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus, our teams were still able to carry out essential moves and allocations and came within 90% of the allocations made in the previous year, which is a huge achievement.
“It is important for us to set these targets for the benefit of our communities and to meet our legal obligations. For example, it is expected that later this year, government legislation will come into effect which means that all homeless households will require to be accommodated in ‘suitable accommodation’ after seven days. Setting these targets now and monitoring our progress is an important step towards meeting obligations like these.
“There continues to be pressure on the council to provide more socially-rented accommodation and we continue to work with partners to deliver more new council and housing association homes each year, as well as continuing with our extensive modernisation programme of existing council housing stock.”
In setting any targets against each group the council must give reasonable preference to certain statutory groups when allocating council houses. These include applicants living in unsatisfactory housing conditions; tenants in social housing who are under occupying their property and who have unmet housing needs and to those applicants who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Most of the statutory groups are found in the General Needs Group, although some applicants may fall into the Transfer Group, such as those who need re-housing because of overcrowding or whose health is being negatively impacted upon in their current accommodation.
The council has also made significant progress towards freeing up larger properties by incentivising moves by tenants who are under-occupying their current property.
The council also operates Local Lettings Plans in some areas where there are issues such as a high housing turnover or antisocial behaviour issues. These plans allow for allocations to be made outwith general policies, in a bid to achieve more balanced and sustainable communities.
Progress towards meeting the allocations policy targets will be reviewed in six months’ time and a further report will be brought to Cabinet if any changes are deemed necessary.