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Housing allocation scheme

Last updated on: 09-Apr-2021

3. Assessment of need

3.1. The banding system

Try to be as fair as possible in deciding who should be offered properties, we use a banding system to determine priority for re-housing. Assessment is based on an applicant’s housing circumstances, suitability of the property, and any long- term medical problems.

Persons eligible to join the housing list will have their application assessed by an officer and placed into one of four bands, in accordance with the ‘fair and flexible’ statutory guidance. The bands are referred to as ‘A, B, C and D’. Applications in band A will be given the highest priority for re-housing, band B the next highest, then C with band D applicants having the lowest priority.

Further details of how an applicant's circumstances will determine the priority band they are placed in, are set out in our breakdown of bands.

3.2. Medical and welfare priority

Our assessment is not based on the nature or severity of any medical condition or disability but is focused on the direct impact that the current housing has on any condition or disability, and whether this could be alleviated by a move to a more suitable home.

For example, priority may be awarded if you may have mobility issues which make it difficult for you to climb stairs and you are unable to access your bedroom or bathroom facilities on a different floor as these are only accessible by stairs. In this situation, you would benefit from a move to a property that provides level living. We will only assess your priority on medical and/or welfare grounds if there is evidence that your current housing impacts directly on your medical condition, disability, or welfare. We will not usually assess your priority on medical or welfare grounds if your household is already in Band A as an assessment cannot increase your priority.

Priority on medical or welfare grounds is assessed based on the information you submit. If you consider that anyone in your household has a medical condition that is adversely affected by your current housing, you must provide independent verification. This may be from your GP, Nurse, Hospital Consultant, Occupational Therapist or other health care professional. In welfare cases you should provide independent verification of your circumstances from your Social Worker, Support Worker or other professional involved in your case. For medical cases we may ask you to provide further evidence or refer your case for independent medical advice. For welfare assessments we may ask you to provide further evidence or (where appropriate) we may make a joint assessment with Social Services, or an appropriate support agency.

We assess your priority by looking at your current housing. If it meets the medical and welfare needs of you and all members of your household there will be no change in your housing priority. We look at whether your current housing makes a medical condition or disability worse, and whether it is possible to make relevant adaptations, such as providing a stair lift or wet room to your home. In mobility cases we look at the severity of your difficulties in relation to your property. Factors such as the number of steps inside and leading to a property, width of internal doorways and circulation space, and whether you have a lift or ramp may be relevant. The assessment will consider whether a move to more suitable housing would either improve the medical condition or substantially improve your quality of life. If you have medical needs, but a move would not significantly improve the situation, there will be no change in priority based on medical grounds.

Overcrowding may impact on the health and well-being of some or all members of your household and/or the needs of any dependent children. This is taken into account in the banding priority awarded due to overcrowding, and usually no further priority will be awarded.

Similarly, when assessing priority on welfare grounds we will consult with other people involved in your care, as this may identify ways to help you stay in your current home with appropriate ongoing support. If this resolves your support needs, you will not be awarded any priority on welfare grounds. Otherwise, we look at whether your needs are made worse by your current housing. If so, we will consider whether a move to more suitable housing would improve things for you. If you have welfare needs, but a move would not significantly improve the situation, there will be no change in priority on welfare grounds.

If you need to move into the borough in order to provide or receive significant and ongoing care or support to or from a close family member (children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents or brothers/sisters) we will look at the following factors as part of the assessment:

  • The level of care and support that is required and whether this can be provided locally or by a formal care package
  • Whether you and/or your family member can drive or use public transport
  • Whether you and/or your family member are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance
  • Whether you need or can provide frequent assistance with activities of daily living, including household chores, preparing, and cooking meals, organising finances and attending to medical needs including administering medication and attending appointments.

If you want to move within the borough to provide or receive significant and ongoing care or support to or from a close family member you will not usually be considered for priority on welfare grounds.

If you are currently living in supported housing (including refuge) and have been assessed by the support provider as ready to move on into independent living, you will usually be awarded Band B priority on welfare grounds.

If you are experiencing difficulties in accessing your home due to non-medical matters such as carrying children, shopping, prams or pushchairs on external or communal stairs or do not have access to a private garden, you will not usually be awarded any change in priority based on medical or welfare grounds.

3.3. Suitable size accomodation

Generally, social housing is offered in line with the following guide:

Table of suitable size accomodation depending on household
Household composition Type and size of home
A single person
  • Bedsit
  • Studio flat
  • One bedroom flat/house
  • Or sheltered accomodation if appropriate
A couple
  • One bedroom flat, house or bungalow
  • Or sheltered accomodation if appropriate
Two adults (or couple with verified need for seperate bedrooms)
  • Two bedroom flat, house or bungalow
  • Or sheltered accomodation if appropriate
A couple or single parent with one child
  • Two bedroom flat, house or bungalow
A couple or single parent with two children
  • Two or three bedroom flat, house or bungalow (depending on the age/sex of children)
A couple or single parent with three or more children
  • Three or four bedroom house (depending on the age/sex of children)

Exceptions to this guide, depending on individual circumstances, which include (but are not limited to) applicants where:

There is a medical recommendation for a bigger home for example:

  • To meet a medical or disability need for an extra bedroom
  • Accommodate a carer
  • The available home has special adaptations which you need and there are no other applicants of the correct household size available that need those adaptations
Other reasons include:
  • The home is offered as the result of an emergency
  • The home is offered to a homeless applicant as temporary accommodation
  • The home is offered to a downsizing tenant who has requested an additional bedroom to their assessed need which has been agreed by the Housing Allocations Panel
  • The home is offered under the specific terms of a Local Lettings Plan

Bungalows will usually be allocated to households where the applicant or a member of their household has been assessed as needing level-living accommodation.

3.4. Shared responsibilities for dependent children

We acknowledge that many separated or divorced parents continue to share responsibilities for their children including providing a home for them. Where any dependent children live with you some of the time and at other times with their other parent/guardian at a separate address, we will assess whether your address is their main home so that they can be included as members of your household.

We will consider the following:

  • the financial support you receive including Child Benefit, Universal Credit/tax credits, disability benefits (if appropriate) and maintenance from their other parent/guardian
  • any Family Court Order(s) under the Children Act (1989) in respect of parental responsibility, contact or residency
  • supporting evidence from Social Services in respect of fostering, guardianship or adoption placements. Whether the children currently reside with someone else for all or part of each week

Regardless of the amount of time that your children spend with you, if we decide that their main home is not with you, they will not be included on your Housing Register application; and they will not be considered when assessing overcrowding/under-occupation or the size of property (number of bedrooms) that you can apply for or be offered under this scheme.

3.5. Carers

A carer is someone who looks after and supports a partner, friend, relative or neighbour who would not be able to manage without their help. This could be due to age, physical or mental illness or disability. It does not mean a professional care worker or personal assistant who gets paid for their work.

If you have identified a primary carer, we will consider whether they need to live with you or near you to provide care. They may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance if they spend at least 35 hours per week in their caring role. Even if your carer receives Carer’s Allowance it may not be essential that they live with you as a member of your household.

If you have requested an additional bedroom for your carer, this will be considered by the Housing Allocations Panel who will take into account the following:

  • whether your carer receives Carer’s Allowance
  • whether your care needs have been assessed as including overnight support
  • whether you have been awarded benefits because of illness or disability including Disability Living Allowance (Care component), Personal Independence Payment (Daily living component), Attendance Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance
  • the level of care that you need and whether this is likely to change in the future
  • the ability of your carer to provide the level of care required
  • your current accommodation, and where your carer currently resides

3.6. Exceptional priority

To assist the national police force to tackle serious crime and to support witnesses in the legal process, the council works in partnership with colleagues in the National Witness Mobility Programme (NWMS) and will, as required, accept referrals from this source.

Such cases will have been assessed and verified by the NWMS managers and referrals will only be accepted with the agreement of the Service Manager (Housing Options). There are confidentiality considerations for such cases and no personal information will be taken until the applicant accepts a direct offer of accommodation in the district. Any proposed offer will be checked for suitability by the NWMS before the offer is made and details of successful lettings may not subsequently be made available to the public.

3.7. Direct lets

Certain properties are excluded from choice-based letting (bidding) and are allocated by making a direct offer to an applicant. This includes (but is not limited to) the following applicants:

  • with an immediate need to move on health or welfare grounds, where the current home is unsuitable, or where there is an immediate threat of violence
  • who are subject to current multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA), and who pose a very serious risk to the community, where the type or location of properties that are suitable may need to be restricted
  • who have been temporarily decanted from their current housing to enable demolition or redevelopment work and who need to transfer to a suitable property within the new development
  • with a need for a bespoke adapted home which is to be provided within a new development (as agreed by the Housing Allocations Panel)
  • to discharge our duty to provide accommodation to some homeless households under the Housing Act 1996 (as amended)

Wherever possible the direct allocation of a property will match the applicant’s assessed need in terms of number of bedrooms needed or floor level, and any essential requirements on health and welfare grounds. Other factors such as non-essential preferences regarding the location or type of housing will not normally be considered.

3.8. One offer/refusals

Only one direct offer of housing will be made which applicants will be expected to accept. If this is refused, the reasons for refusal will be considered by the Housing Allocations Panel who will decide if the property offered was suitable. If the property offered was unsuitable, then one further offer will be made. However, if the property offered was suitable then no further direct allocation will be made, and the applicant will be removed from the Housing Register and disqualified for 12 months.

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