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Housing allocation

Last updated on: 09-Apr-2021

2. Frequently asked questions

We have put together some key questions which provide useful information about the newly revised Housing Allocations Scheme which goes live on Monday 5 April 2021.

You can find out information around the bidding process, what properties we have on our Apply for housing pages.

What is a housing register?

The Council’s Housing Register is a list of applicants with a housing need who qualify to be considered for Council or Housing Association homes in the Borough of Gravesham. All applicants are assessed in accordance with the rules of the Housing Allocation Scheme and placed into one of four priority bands on the Register.

Why has the Housing Allocation Scheme been reviewed?

There have been a number of changes in legislation, guidance and good practice since the Scheme was last reviewed in 2014. Some of the rules in our Scheme have been amended to ensure that we comply with the law and achieve our aim of allocating the limited number of social homes available as fairly as possible and to those in the greatest need.

How was the revised scheme decided?

A comparative analysis of the details of applicants on the Housing Register and the number and type of social housing properties allocated was undertaken and a number of changes to the current Scheme were proposed. These proposed changes were then subject to consultation and discussion with officers within the Council, Members, housing providers and other professionals and members of the public.

The revised policy was then updated to take into account the feedback received before being approved by the Cabinet Member for Housing Services, Councillor Jenny Wallace, on 17 February 2021.

Where can I find a copy of the updated allocation scheme?

The Housing Allocation Schemeis online to be viewed now, ahead of its go live date in April. A copy of the revised Scheme is also available on request via email at no cost

What are the main changes?

Below are the 7 main changes in allocation scheme with information as to why they have changed.

1. Definition of local connection

A change to the definition of local connection to increase the qualifying length of residence or employment in the Borough from two years to three years.

Reason behind the change

To ensure that the limited supply of social housing in the Borough is allocated to local people and to align the qualifying period more closely to that of neighbouring boroughs in Kent and South East London.

2. Refusal sanctions

A change to ‘refusal sanctions’ so that all applicants will be suspended from the Housing Register for 12 months if they refuse a suitable offer.

Reason behind the change

To ensure the same rules apply regardless of the applicant status. Previously, those bidding on general needs properties were able to refuse a first offer without penalty whilst those who are homeless or need an urgent management move were given only one offer. This change will also increase efficiency within the team.

3. Definition of Band D priority

A change to the definition of Band D priority to include just those applicants needing sheltered housing and removing those with no identified housing need.

Reason behind the change

Those with no housing need have no realistic prospect of being offered social housing and so adding people to the Register creates expectations that are never likely to be realised. Those with no identified housing needs in relation to social housing, can still be provided with assistance by the Housing Options team to secure private sector housing.

4. Increased priority award for homeless households

An increase in the priority awarded to certain homeless households with a specific need or requirement for social housing in the Borough of Gravesham.

Reason behind the change

Whilst we can discharge the rehousing duties owed to homeless households by way of a private rental, a number of these have additional medical or welfare needs that mean that this is not an appropriate solution to their homelessness. This increase in priority will reduce the amount of time spent in temporary accommodation for those more vulnerable households.

5. Increased priority award for Armed Services personnel

An increase in priority for current and former Armed Services personnel and their families who suffer serious injury or die in service.

Reason behind the change

To reflect the commitment of the Armed Forces Covenant and Government guidance to provide support to the local Armed Forces community.

6. Priority for those looking to downsize property

An increase in the priority awarded to tenants looking to downsize to a property with one fewer bedrooms than their current home from Band B to Band A to maximise their chances of securing a transfer and freeing up larger homes for families

Reason behind the change

To ensure that all those tenants who choose to downsize, including those giving up a much-needed two-bedroom home are given the maximum opportunity to move.

7. Housing allocations Panel

The introduction of a Housing Allocations Panel.

Reason behind the change

To ensure consistency and transparency in decision making, especially for those cases where an element of discretion is required and exercised.

Questions about what happens next

What will happen to applicants already on the Housing Register?

All applicants on the Housing Register will be notified that the revised Scheme will be implemented, and will be reassessed against the criteria in the revised Scheme during a two-week closure between 22 March and 4 April 2021. Following the reassessment process, all applicants will be notified of the outcome, including any changes to their priority. No one will be able to place any bids during the closure period and no properties will be advertised.

Will my current banding change?

Some applicants’ circumstances mean that they will qualify for a higher or lower priority under the revised scheme and for many there will be no change.

Will my current priority date change?

Your current priority date will not change even if you are awarded a higher priority under the revised Scheme. However, if you notify us of a change in your circumstances during the reassessment process which results in a higher priority being awarded, your priority date will usually change to the date that you notified us of the change.

If I am on the Housing Register and no longer meet the revised criteria, what will happen?

You will be notified that you do not qualify for inclusion on the housing register, usually because you do not meet any of the housing need criteria, and your application will be removed. You can reapply if there is a relevant change in your circumstances.

If I do not meet the revised criteria and my application is removed, can I appeal that decision?

If your application is removed you will be advised of your right to seek a review of that decision in writing within 21 days. You should tell us the reasons why you think the decision is wrong and provide any supporting evidence to be considered in the review by emailing allocations@gravesham.gov.uk

If I am no longer eligible but require housing, what can I do?

If you need advice and assistance with rehousing options please contact the housing team by emailing housingneedsteam@gravesham.gov.uk or by phoning 01474 337759

What is the Housing Allocations Panel?

The Housing Allocations Panel comprises a group of three or more officers. This includes at least one representative from the Housing Allocations Team, the Housing Options Team and an independent senior council manager who is not connected to Housing Services. They will meet on a regular basis to make and review decisions, including any decision to remove an applicant from the Housing Register.

I have received an email to say that the Housing Allocation Scheme is changing, do I need to do anything and should I make contact with the Allocations Team?

No, you do not need to do anything and an officer will be in contact with you once your application has been re-assessed against the new criteria.

I am currently on the Housing Register but do not have three years local connection to Gravesham, does that mean I will be removed from the Register?

No. For this particular change, the increase in the local connection criteria from 2 years to 3 years will not be applied retrospectively. It will only apply to new applications.

My current banding was allocated due to medical reasons, will this change under the new Scheme?

It may, depending on your circumstances. Currently, if you are awarded priority on medical grounds you will be placed in either band A, B, or C depending on your circumstances. The new scheme will only have two categories of priority on medical grounds resulting in either band A or band C priority. If you are currently in band B for medical reasons, your application will be reassessed so that you are moved to the appropriate band, either band A (if your need to move is urgent) or band C (if it’s not so urgent). We may ask you for further evidence of your medical need during re-assessment.

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