[To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration. Report of the Director of Planning, Regeneration and Development] This report seeks approval to consult on a an Estate Renewal Re-housing and Payments Policy (Appendix 1) proposed for the borough. The policy brings together in one document all the relevant statutory provisions (e.g. in respect of Home Loss and Disturbance Payments) and existing Council policies (e.g. within the Allocations Policy) with guidance to facilitate the Council’s estate renewal programme, by more effectively re-housing and compensating residents required to move and providing vacant possession for development works to take place.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration introduced the report which sought Cabinet approval to consult on a proposed an Estate Renewal Re-housing and Payments Policy (Appendix 1) for the borough. This policy endeavoured to meet the expectation of residents who are required to be re-housed and brings together all the advice and support listed in a range of different documents into one accessible document. The policy also aims to provides a consistent borough-wide approach to the re-housing and payment commitments. The policy would apply to all regeneration and estate improvement schemes, where 10 or more units are being improved or redeveloped.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration highlighted that the proposed consultation dates, listed at section 5 of the attached report, may be subject to change
Subject to noting the potential date change to the consultation period.
Alternative Options Considered
The alternative options of developing an estate renewal re-housing policy only or just a set of procedures covering the issues in Appendix 1 were considered. However, it was considered important to bring together all the policies relevant to re-housing and compensating residents in one document, rather than just cover re-housing matters. Also, a set of procedures for staff would not represent a statement by the Council of its commitments to affected residents, which is an important objective of the proposed policy.
In developing the proposed policy, alternative approaches to how the policy should be applied to individual estate renewal schemes were considered. Broadly, 3 approaches were considered:
(a) Apply the minimum statutory entitlements and existing policy commitments across all schemes
(b) Consider the re-housing and payment commitments to residents on a scheme by scheme basis
(c) Apply (a) above, but consider additional discretionary entitlements on a scheme by scheme basis
The approach set out in paragraph 4.2, item (a) above has been broadly adopted within the policy at Appendix 1, as this provides consistency across different schemes and amongst residents from different areas. It also provides a better balance between meeting the re-housing needs of residents affected by estate renewal and other households on the Housing Register. However, the proposed policy at Appendix 1 does provide for some flexibility on a scheme by scheme basis, for example, in respect of the degree to which residents are able to return to take up a new permanent home on their estate, which is dependent on the number of new homes provided in each scheme. In addition, Local Lettings Policies (provided for within the existing Allocations Policy) offer some additional scope for local flexibility.
The minimum statutory entitlements include one-off Home Loss Payments of £4,900 for eligible households and Disturbance Payments for reasonable moving costs. The Council’s existing policies include, under the Allocations Policy, provision for secure tenants required to move being placed in the highest re-housing band (band A) and being able to bid for alternative accommodation under Choice Based Lettings, until 12 months prior to vacant possession being required for development works. At that stage, direct offers would be made to ensure re-housing takes place.
In addition to existing entitlements, consideration has been given to additional discretionary entitlements beyond existing policy, including:
(a) All secure tenants under-occupying their existing home, being able to under-occupy their new home by 1 bedroom
(b) Adult children living with secure tenants being offered separate accommodation
(c) More generous ‘fixed payment’ Disturbance Payments, beyond those paid under existing arrangements to other secure tenants being moved to allow major repairs to their home
However, these additional entitlements have not been incorporated within the proposed policy at Appendix 1, to ensure a fair and consistent approach is taken in respect of those required to move as part of an estate renewal scheme, as compared to other groups.
It is proposed that the alternative options described above, should feature within the consultation questions, as they are likely to be considered important by residents who may be affected by estate renewal schemes. Equally, any additional benefits for this group may be seen as disadvantaging other groups, such as those on the Housing Register, with potential equalities implications.
Reasons for Decision
The main reasons for the decisions recommended at paragraph 3.1 are:
(a) to give clear direction to Members and residents on the Council’s commitments to households would need to move as part of an estate renewal scheme
(b) to introduce a new delegation in respect of the ‘effective date’ of the policy at Appendix 1, in order to improve management control of re-housing, voids and payments in respect of individual estate renewal schemes
(c) to help facilitate the effective co-ordination of relevant policies on re-housing, payments to residents and obtaining vacant possession in order to deliver the Council’s estate renewal programme
(d) to conduct an effective consultation on the proposed policy at Appendix 1
to be able to report back to the Cabinet with the consultation outcome, an Equalities Impact Assessment and any amendments to the policy, for final approval