Birmingham wants ‘more realistic’ waiting list

City Council to end present ‘meaningless’ policy with thousands of housing applicants having to re-register for assessment according to new criteria.

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Birmingham City Council is changing the way it allocates social housing to make offers ‘more realistic’ for the thousands in need of a home.

All applicants on Birmingham’s current housing register will get a letter over the next few weeks explaining the new scheme and the need to re-register straight away if they still need social housing.

Birmingham City Council says the new scheme will still ensure social housing is allocated to those most in need –  but the new criteria will give applicants a ‘more realistic’ view of whether they are likely to be made a housing offer.

Applicants will need to have some form of housing need in order to qualify to join the waiting list.

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for housing and homes, Cllr Peter Griffiths, said: “For too long we have had a meaningless waiting list of thousands of people who in reality will never be made an offer of a council house or registered provider’s home.

“This new scheme will give a fair assessment of someone’s housing need and a realistic evaluation of whether they have sufficient priority to get a home.  We will of course continue to offer housing advice to help people explore all their options.”

Before the new scheme goes live the council will only be assessing applications from existing applicants who have completed the re-registration process – new applicants will be able to apply under the new scheme as soon as it is becomes operational on April 20.

Housing officers, social workers, voluntary groups and advice agencies are all on notice to assist with re-registration.

The outgoing scheme is seen by the council as:

  • Is difficult for customers to understand
  • Giving false customer expectation because of open access to the register
  • Making it difficult for existing tenants to gain an offer of alternative accommodation
  • Failing make best use of the existing housing stock
  • Not corresponding with the Localism Act and Code of Guidance
  • Expensive for the Council to administer

The new scheme hopes to improve by:

  • Not have an open Housing Register
  • Have a Band based assessment system
  • Offer one priority award
  • Decide ranking within Bands by date
  • Allow a maximum of two suitable offers to be made
  • Introduce pro-active case management
  • Retain Choice Based Lettings
  • Assist and restrict bidding where appropriate.

In preparation for the introduction of the new scheme next month, the council’s current housing register will be discontinued and every housing applicant will be required to re-apply and be re-assessed over this month and next.

Re-registration is the most critical part of the implementation of the new allocation scheme and, with the exception of the implementation of the new IT solution, re-registration is the highest cost to this project.

A data audit plan was presented and approved by the council’s project board in January 2015.

Data cleansing of the current housing register will continue until the re-registration exercise commences.

The average number of related voids advertised has been around 160 per week, as of September 2015 there were 21,725 housing applicants comprising of: 13,287 applicants, 6,103 tenants and 2,361 homeless.

At the same time there were 657 housing applicants awaiting assessment with the service standard for completing assessments 25 working days.

During 2014/15 a total of 14,742 new applications were assessed and registered, 6,670 were closed and 295 cancelled at the request of applicants.

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