Home-Options Allocation Policy Consultation

This consultation relates to the Home-Options Policy for the following areas:

  • Amber Valley
  • Derbyshire Dales
  • Erewash
  • High Peak
  • Staffordshire Moorlands.

Chesterfield has a separate policy and is not included in this consultation.

Proposed Changes to the Home-Options Policy

The policy last underwent a full review in 2016. Since then, there have been a number of changes, not least the changes to the way in which local authorities deal with homelessness. There are also changes that we think will make the policy easier to understand and fairer to people on the housing register.

The draft policy can be viewed here: Draft Home-Options Policy 2020. A summary of the changes are listed below.

The consultation ran from Thursday 21 May 2020 to Sunday 2 August 2020. A summary of the results will be published shortly.

Section Changes

The proposed changes are:

The Legal Framework

  • Updated to reflect the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, guidance on access to social housing for victims of domestic abuse and the Armed Forces Covenant.

Registration

  • Data protection information revised in light of the GDPR.
  • The test of a ‘significant change’ that would allow an applicant who has been re-housed within the past two years to be re-admitted to the housing register has been defined as “an applicant will qualify if they would meet the criteria for an award of priority bands A, B+, B or C”.

 Local Residency Requirement:

  • the required time period for applicants moving to give or receive support has been reduced from 5 years to six months
  • in response to the Derbyshire Armed Forces Covenant, applicants who wish to settle in the Home-Options area following a divorce or separation within a service family, do not need to meet the Local Residency Requirement to qualify to register
  • Care leavers owed a duty of care by Derbyshire County Council will meet the Local Residency Requirement in any of the four areas
  • In accordance with Improving Access to Social Housing for Victims of Domestic Abuse in Refuges or Other Types of Temporary Accommodation, applicants who are resident in a refuge in the Home-Options area will automatically meet the Local Residency Requirement.
  • Applicants aged 50 or over who are willing to accept low-demand accommodation – the draft policy states “Such applications will be accepted entirely at the discretion of the Home-Options Partnership”.
  • Property owners are advised that they should take reasonable steps to sell the property they own, in the event that they a re-housed through Home-Options.
  • Reasons why an applicant may not be eligible due to deliberate worsening of circumstances includes ‘being required to leave service accommodation as a result of being dishonourably discharged from HM Armed Forces’.

Local Connection

  • The required time period to award local connection for applicants moving to give or receive support has been reduced from 5 years to six months.
  • Care leavers owed a duty by Derbyshire County Council (for Amber Valley, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Erewash or High Peak) or Staffordshire County Council (for Staffordshire Moorlands) will be awarded a local connection to all districts in the relevant county.
  • Local connection will be awarded to applicants from the armed forces, in accordance with the Housing Ombudsman’s interpretation of the regulations (https://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/housing/homelessness/17-013-855)
  • Local connection will also be granted to divorced or separated spouses or civil partners of armed forces personnel who are required to move out of armed forces accommodation, in accordance with the Armed Forces Covenant.
  • Applicants who have fled domestic abuse and are currently accommodated in a refuge or other temporary accommodation, will be granted a local connection for the area in which their accommodation is located, in line with Improving Access to Social Housing for Victims of Domestic Abuse in Refuges or Other Types of Temporary Accommodation (2018).

Priority on the Housing Register

  • A flowchart is used to show how priority for owner-occupiers is assessed.
  • A-5. Temporary accommodation move – this priority band has been updated to reflect the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and will be separate from band A-4. Urgent social priority.
  • Band B+ is introduced to give additional priority to those owed the main homelessness duty or a relief duty who are in priority need and not intentionally homeless.
  • Band B-5 multiple needs is deleted.
  • New bands for medical priority - Bands B-4 (Higher Medical Needs) and Band C-4 (Medium Medical Needs) – have been introduced to better balance the needs of those who apply to move on medical grounds.
  • Band C-5. Medium social need now includes moves on the grounds of moving to another area to receive or provide support to a family member where that support is not already available.

Choice for applicants

  • The household eligibility matrix has been updated to include parlour-type properties to better match applicants to properties and improve options with three or more children.
  • Where a member of a household is pregnant, an additional bedspace will be awarded from the 25th week of pregnancy.
  • Dependent children are redefined as any household member who is under the age of 21 (other than the applicant or their partner) to reflect the fact that many children are living at home longer.
  • Additional bedrooms required on medical grounds has been update to clarify that applicants may be awarded an additional bedroom need and assessed as overcrowded, rather than be given medical priority.
  • The conditions under which an applicant may be eligible for an additional bedroom for overnight carers has been clarified, with a requirement that a carer be required for a minimum of four nights per week.
  • Households who require four or more bedrooms who may ordinarily be considered overcrowded at the point of letting, will not qualify to re-register for two years unless there is a significant change in their circumstances.

Advertising available homes

  • The advertising of ‘Available Now’ properties is included in the policy, with clarification as to when it can be used and the process to be followed.

Bidding and selection

  • The ‘order in which bids are considered’ table has been updated to reflect the introduction of Band B+ applicants and the addition of Chesterfield Borough Council applicants (Chesterfield BC have an open register and are not giving Home-Options applicants with a local connection any additional preference. As a result, Chesterfield applicants with a local connection will be considered alongside all other registered applicants without a local connection).

Offers and Refusals

  • Reasons for rejecting applicants who bid for properties have been included in the allocation policy.
  • Multiple Refusals of Offers – applicants who refuse five properties at the viewing or full offer stage in any 12 month period will have their application removed from the housing register for a period of 12 months.

Homeless applicants

  • Applicants who have a duty owed to them under the homelessness legislation are considered to have reasonable preference and are exempt from the Local Residency Requirement (subject to any further restrictions in the Eligibility and Qualification to join the Housing Register section).
  • Applicants whose homelessness duty comes to an end will have their housing application reviewed. If they no longer qualify to be registered on Home-Options, then their application will be removed.

Home-Options Review Procedure

  • Slight changes to the wording of the stage 1 & 2 reviews regarding timescales have been made to give greater control over the process.
  • A mandatory reconsideration of stage 2 reviews has been written into the allocation policy.
  • If the applicant does not provide supporting information within an agreed timescale then the review panel can reach a decision about the review without further delay.

Appendix 3: Local Connection 

  • This section has been updated to include care leavers.

Appendix 5: Priority on Medical Grounds

  • A section has been added to clarify the factors we will take into account when assessing an applicant’s priority on medical grounds.
  • Specific categories have been added for armed forces applicants with physical or mental ill-health.

Appendix 9: Qualification & Local Connection for Homeless Applicants

  • A flowchart has been added to clarify the award of local connection to homeless applicants.

Data Protection Statement

Derbyshire Dales District Council is carrying out this consultation on behalf of the Councils and Housing Associations who make up the Home-Options Partnership. Details of the partners can be found here.

The information you provide will enable us to evaluate the proposed changes to the allocation policy and to make sure we take the views of all parts of society into account. We will publish the results of the consultation on the Home-Options website. The information you provide will be held electronically and kept secure at all times in line with Derbyshire Dales District Council’s retention policies which can be found here.

Please do not enter any personal information such as your name and address in the comment boxes. If you have queries that relate directly to your Home-Options application, please contact your local Home-Options team for a reply. Details of your local team can be found here: Contact Page.