Proposed changes to Cornwall Homechoice, Cornwall Council’s choice based housing allocation system for letting council and housing association homes in Cornwall, have gone out for public consultation.
The formal consultation runs until June 13 with a number of consultation events planned with stakeholders including tenants, Age UK, Disability Cornwall and CAB.
Over 13,000 applicants currently registered on Cornwall Homechoice that have provided Cornwall Housing Ltd with their email addresses will be contacted direct and a sample of 9,000 will be sent a copy of the public survey by post.
As part of the consultation, people will be asked for their views on:
• Who can join the housing register and whether applicants need to show that they have a local connection (3 or 5 years) to Cornwall before they can join.
• A proposal to reduce the number of bands from 5 to 3 with applicants banded either red (in highest need), amber or green.
• How properties will be advertised and let with a proposal that, if a choice-based lettings approach is used, that applicants are only able to bid for 1 property per advertising cycle and that in some circumstances, applicants who turn down 2 properties that are offered to them are removed from the housing register.
• Incorporating some flexibilities around the method for letting available properties – whether via a choice-based approach, or via direct letting, or a combination of both
• Applicant responsibilities with a proposal that if an applicant or a member of their household has demonstrated unacceptable behaviour in the last two years they will not qualify to join the housing register.
It is also proposed that potential applicants who have assets valued at over £50,000, or who own property that it is reasonable for them to live in, or who have an income that would suggest they should be able to meet their own housing need will not qualify to join Cornwall Homechoice unless exceptional circumstances apply.
Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities, Geoff Brown, said: “Delivering homes to meet the needs of local people is a key priority for the council. Currently we operate an open register and it is important that we tighten up our allocations policy to try and meet the urgent need of our communities.
"The proposed changes will assist Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing Ltd to better manage the housing waiting list and ensure that homes are allocated fairly to those in greatest need.
"I would be particularly interested in views on the best way of allocating homes, either by improving the current online bidding system or through a process of direct letting.
"Please respond to this consultation as your views really do matter in developing the new allocations scheme.”
When applicants register with Cornwall Homechoice, their housing need is assessed and they are given details of their priority banding, eligible date, and the type and size of property they can apply for. They can then bid for vacant properties advertised by partner landlords.
The results of the consultation will be considered by members over the summer and if agreed, the new system, which will be applied to all existing as well as new applications, will be implemented by the end of 2014.
Further details and all the documentation can be found at http://www.cornwall.gov.uk, search ‘allocations scheme’.