The report on pages 49 – 60 was presented by Ryan Farmer.
Councillor Redsell sought clarification on whether there was a Band 5 as she thought this had been removed. She also questioned if there were still people being added to the Council’s housing list and the number of people on that list. Carol Hinvest explained that the report related to the 2019/20 financial year and Band 5 was abolished in April 2020. Ryan Farmer added that from April 2019, no new applications had been accepted for Band 5 and explained that Band 5 had been there to identify those who had no housing need. Band 5 applicants were still accepted for sheltered housing and most of the Band 5 applicants housed were sheltered housing applicants. However, Band 5 applicants for general needs were no longer acceptable in April 2019. In regards to the housing list, he said that anyone could apply for housing but they needed to meet the criteria to be accepted and added onto the housing list. The criteria had changed to ensure that people with the greatest needs were prioritised. The report stated 9,000 people on the Council’s waiting list which was correct at the time of the report but it was currently around 7,000 people.
Councillor Worrall asked whether the dining room in parlour type houses were allocated as a bedroom or if tenants could still have it as a dining room. Noting the removal of Band 5, she sought clarification on the options for adult children who still lived at home but were not on the housing list in the case of a succession. Ryan Farmer answered that properties were assessed on an individual basis by the relevant team.
In regards to Councillor Worrall’s succession case query, Carol Hinvest explained that where there was a joint tenancy, the tenancy would go to the other surviving tenant. Each case was assessed individually and there had been cases where adult children were found to be earning above the one bed net income in the housing register so would not qualify for the housing list and would be expected to have the means to find housing of their own. Where adult children qualified for the housing list, the service would aim to help them but they would not succeed the same property.
Councillor Worrall commented that Thurrock had 8 HMOs and that there was a demand for one bedroom properties and that the service needed to be led by demand. She questioned whether the housing needs were addressed as she noted that there was a proposal for five 3 bedroom houses on Loewen Road and suggested that eight 2 bedroom houses be proposed instead. She also said more two bedroom properties could be built to enable people to downsize when relevant. Carol Hinvest explained that the one bed demand was for sheltered housing and there were a lot of voids in sheltered housing that the service had difficulty in letting. She said that turnover had to considered and there was a lot of turnover in one bed and two bed properties compared to three bed properties. In addition, the percentage of bids on properties had to be considered. She went on to say that the proposals for developments on sites were based on what was suitable for that site and that there a lot of enquiries for three bedroom properties. She mentioned that the Council had an incentive scheme for downsizing. In regards to HMOs, she said that the Council would not be looking to buy and manage HMOs as it was not a growth area for the service although Councillor Worrall pointed out that it was a need area as people had been housed in hotels since March 2020. Carol Hinvest explained that most of the people housed in the hotels had been moved on and that others would be offered places.
Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee were asked to note and comment on the contents of this annual housing allocations report.