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    B O R O U G H O F K E T T E R I N G

    Item Page 1 Committee RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT A2 of 7

    Report John Conway/Head of Housing Forward Plan Ref:

    Originator N/A

     ndWards All Date: 2 June

    Affected 2010

     HOUSING STRATEGY

    Title

1. PURPOSE OF REPORT

    To inform the R & D Committee on progress in developing a new Housing

    Strategy for Kettering for the period 2010 to 2015.

2. INFORMATION

    2.1 The Housing Strategy takes a strategic look at housing needs in all its forms

    within the Borough of Kettering. It sets out the Council‟s strategic aims for

    housing, establishes priorities for action over a three to five year period in

    consultation with our partners and other stakeholders, and sets out a clear

    action plan to meet identified needs during the lifespan of the document.

    2.2 Our last Housing Strategy was completed in 2005 and identified seven

    strategic aims for Housing across the Borough. A summary of our key

    achievements against these strategic priorities is outlined below:

    Strategic Priority 1: Increasing the supply of affordable housing

    ; Working in partnership with housing associations and the Homes and

    Communities Agency, we have provided increasing numbers of new

    affordable homes. Since 2005, a total of 843 new affordable homes

    have been developed across the Borough.

    ; We have launched Kettering Keyways, our choice based lettings

    service in January 2009. During 2009/10, 948 properties were

    advertised on the Keyways website of which: 424 were owned by

    Kettering Borough Council; 403 by housing associations; 63 were for

    sale on a low cost home ownership basis; and 58 were privately rented.

    During this time, we received 33,200 bids of which 96.5% were placed

    via the Keyways website.

    ; We have launched HomeMove to help tenants under occupying their

    homes to move to smaller properties. Since launch in June 2009, 17

    households have been assisted to downsize into a smaller property,

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    thereby increasing the supply of family accommodation available for

    letting via Keyways.

Strategic Priority 2: Preventing homelessness

    ; Our Housing Options team has developed a new and preventative

    approach to homelessness. As a result, the number of homelessness

    applications has reduced from 253 in 2008/9 to 133 in 2009/10, the

    number of homelessness acceptances has reduced from 115 in 2008/9

    to 82 in 200910, and use of temporary accommodation has more than

    halved from a peak of 52 units in February 2007 to 20 units in March

    2010.

    ; In recognition of the progress we have made, we were selected by the

    Dept for Communities & Local Government as Regional Homelessness

    Champions for the East Midlands in 2007/8, a Centre of Excellence for

    Youth Homelessness in July 2008, and an Enhanced Housing Options

    Trailblazer for three years from 2008-2011, providing us with additional

    funds to trial new ways of delivering housing options services. ; With our Trailblazer funding from CLG, we have been able to develop

    new housing options for groups at high risk of homelessness, including

    ex-offenders, people with mental health problems and young people.

    By working with vulnerable people and their care providers to secure

    settled accommodation before leaving institutional care, we have not

    only reduced incidents of homelessness among these client groups, but

    also enabled a smoother transition into mainstream housing for them. ; We have also developed a range of life skills training courses to better

    equip vulnerable adults to sustain their tenancies. Since the launch of

    „Move On Move In‟ which provides life skills training for young people

    aged 16 24 years, 81 young people have successfully completed the

    course, and only two have lost or given notice on their tenancies since.

    Strategic Priority 3: Improving the physical condition of the housing stock across all tenures

    ; As a result of our ongoing modernisation programmes, 99.85% of

    Kettering Borough Council‟s housing stock now meets the Decent

    Homes Standard, easily placing us amongst the highest achieving local

    authority housing providers in the country on this measure . ; The energy efficiency of Council dwellings has also increased from an

    average SAP rating of 72 in 2005 to 81 in 2010, which also puts us in

    the top quartile of all local authority housing providers. .

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    ; We have developed two new innovative and highly energy efficient

    affordable housing schemes with housing associations, providing 36

    affordable homes on former Council owned garage sites at Sussex

    Road, Kettering and Peaselands, Desborough. A further two housing

    schemes on Council owned land are due for completion in 2011, one at

    Whiteford Drive, Kettering achieving Sustainability Code Level 5. ; We awarded 654 Home Repair Assistance grants totalling ?165,870 to

    fund boiler replacements, loft and cavity wall insulation and double

    glazing installation for low income households between 2006/07 and

    2008/09.

    ; We provided 2,545 homes with loft and cavity wall insulation through

    the Chill Out Scheme during the same period.

    ; We also secured ?730,253 funding to provide condensing boilers, loft

    and cavity wall insulation and draught proofing for vulnerable

    households through the Warm Front scheme over the three years.

    Strategic Priority 4: Promoting opportunities for people with special needs to lead independent lives

    ; We have appointed a new Tenancy Support Advisor, funded by

    Supporting People, to support vulnerable Council tenants in maintaining

    their tenancies.

    ; We have also launched LifePlan with Trailblazer funding, helping

    vulnerable housing applicants and tenants to gain access to

    employment, training and educational opportunities. We have recently

    been awarded the Chartered Institute of Housing‟s East Midlands Good

    Practice Award for this project.

Strategic Priority 5: Sustaining neighbourhoods

    ; We have developed plans to incorporate employment opportunities

    within our Strategic Urban Extensions. The East Kettering

    Supplementary Planning Document adopted in April 2009 builds upon

    Policy 16 of the Core Spatial Strategy providing strategic design

    guidance for this new urban extension.

    ; We have developed 65 new affordable homes in our rural villages at

    Mawsley and Broughton over the last four years with housing

    association partners.

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; We have seen a 4% reduction in overall crime, and especially anti-

    social behaviour and violence, in 2008/09 compared to 2007/08,

    through the focused efforts of Kettering‟s Crime & Disorder Reduction

    Partnership.

    Strategic Priority 6: Maximising the influence our customers have over the level and quality of the service

    ; We have consulted with our Tenants Forum on a wide range of topics

    including choice based lettings, a sheltered housing review, HRA

    finances, estates services review and a lettable standard for vacant

    Council homes.

    ; We have introduced a new Silver Service in consultation with our

    sheltered housing tenants, to provide a more professional and

    responsive service to residents living in our sheltered housing schemes.

    Silver Service has now achieved Level B of the Supporting People

    Quality Assessment Framework.

    ; We have conducted a Tenant Profile survey of all Council tenants to

    better understand the needs of all our tenants and inform future service

    delivery. To date, over half of all tenants have responded to the survey.

    Strategic Priority 7: Ensuring best value and efficiency in the delivery of all housing services

    ; We have worked hard to drive up performance in all parts of the

    Housing service. At the end of 2009/10, all our national performance

    indicators were in either top or upper median quartile. Our performance

    in five out of six local performance indicators has also improved.

    3. A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

    3.1 A review of our Housing Strategy is currently underway, and we anticipate that the new Strategy will be completed during the current financial year. The current Strategy was developed in more buoyant economic times and focussed on mitigating the adverse aspects of a booming local housing market.

    3.2 We are now providing our services in a considerably changed environment. The housing market has effectively collapsed with mortgage finance being extremely difficult for low-income households to obtain. Many households, who already have a home of their own, are fighting to keep a roof over their heads as the number of repossessions increase. This is reflected in an increasing number of people seeking help from our Housing Options team. The supply of

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    new affordable homes is also under threat due to the downturn in construction

    activity by private house builders and housing associations are more reluctant

    to undertake start new developments.

    3.3 Similarly, the political environment has also changed. The new ministerial

    team at the Department for Communities and Local Government are currently

    working on their housing policies. Early indications from their paper “The

    Coalition: Our Programme for Government” (May 2010) suggest changes

    which include:

    ; A range of measures to bring empty homes back into use.

    ; Promotion of shared ownership and help to social tenants and others to

    own or part own their own homes.

    ; Continuous improvements to the energy efficiency of new affordable

    homes.

    ; Incentives to local authorities to deliver sustainable development,

    including for new homes and businesses.

    ; A review of the Housing Revenue Account regime, which the coalition

    government describes as “unfair”.

    Members will be aware that the previous government was consulting on

    changes to the HRA subsidy regime, in order to tackle the perception that it

    was no longer fit for purpose. It is unclear at this stage whether the new

    government will want to build on this or propose new ideas.

    3.4 More generally, it is far too early to estimate the impact of new Government

    policies but it is reasonable to assume there will be a different approach to the

    management of growth and an increased emphasis on the contribution of the

    private sector to meeting housing need.

    3.5 Our new Housing Strategy will therefore need to take account of the demands

    of a radically different housing market, new Government housing policies and

    straightened public finances whilst aiming to meet the housing needs of local

    people.

4. POLICY IMPLICATIONS

     There are no policy implications as a result of this review at present.

5. RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS

    4.1 There are no resource implications as a result of this review at present. 5. CONSULTATION AND CUSTOMER IMPACT

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    5.1 A full and thorough consultation will be carried out with a wide range of stakeholders, including voluntary and statutory organisations and Council tenants, prior to completion of our new Strategy. This will not only enable stakeholders to help identify local priorities for housing over the next five years, but also ensure close partnership working to meet our shared objectives.

    6. CONCLUSIONS

    6.1 As a result of the changing environment we are now working in, we anticipate that the Council‟s new Housing Strategy will focus on a number of key areas:

    ; Greater emphasis will be placed on the role of the private sector in

    meeting local housing need and increasing the supply of affordable

    homes for households on our housing register. Private landlords have

    already demonstrated an appetite to work with us by advertising their

    empty properties on Keyways. We will explore ways of enhancing their

    role further in meeting housing need, at the same time ensuring that

    properties offered are of a high standard, on longer tenancies, at

    affordable rents.

    ; We will also explore the Council‟s role in tackling worklessness further.

    Kettering currently has the highest rate of long term unemployment in

    Northamptonshire, and many of those who are unemployed are living in

    social housing. Therefore, we will work together with other social

    landlords across the Borough to build on our experiences from LifePlan,

    linking our customers to employment, education and training, in order to

    combat unemployment locally.

    ; With the impact of climate change rising up the political agenda

    nationally, we will explore new ways to improve energy efficiency in the

    existing and new build housing stock in both public and private sector

    ownership, to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also to

    reduce fuel poverty among local residents.

    ; We will also need to respond to emerging changes to the HRA subsidy

    regime.

    6.2 After a full consultation with stakeholders during the autumn of 2010, a final Housing Strategy will be completed for adoption before the end of the current financial year.

     6. RECOMMENDATION The Committee consider the contents of the report and comment accordingly.

    B O R O U G H O F K E T T E R I N G

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    Background Papers: Previous Reports/Minutes: None

     Ref: N/A

    Date: 20 May 2010

     Date: N/A

    Contact Officer: Sue Hottinger/ Housing Strategy & Options Manager

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