Housing and homelessness strategy 2019 to 2021

A PDF version of the strategy is also available:  Homelessness Strategy 2019 to 2021 [pdf] 376KB

1. Foreword

Arun faces huge housing challenges, and tackling them is an essential priority for the Council. With average house prices more than 17 times the yearly average household income*, Arun can be a very unaffordable area to live. The high demand for housing and limited supply of it causes hardship for many local people and threatens the local economy. To deliver more housing and effective, efficient homelessness prevention services, the Council will need to prioritise activities to increase housing supply, improve access to quality affordable housing, and deliver more innovative approaches with existing and new partners.

This single overarching Housing & Homelessness strategy sets out Arun District Council's vision for housing and how it will work in partnership to prevent and tackle homelessness and to meet housing needs. It combines and replaces what were previously three separate strategies (‘Raise the Roof’ Housing Strategy, Arun’s Homelessness Strategy & Arun’s Rough Sleeping Strategy), making it easier for our customers and stakeholders to understand how we intend to build on our achievements to address the housing challenges for Arun.

The priorities in this new combined strategy will ensure that good quality housing and housing related services contribute towards improving and enhancing the health and wellbeing of local people, and have a positive impact on building sustainable and prosperous communities where diverse needs are met.

We want Arun to be a place where residents have access to affordable and highquality homes that enable them to build settled, safe and healthy lives within sustainable and thriving communities.

This Strategy is based on the findings of the Homelessness Review 2018 as well as the responses to the consultation with residents, service users, partners and stakeholders. The Strategy will run in parallel to the work on the Arun Housing Revenue Business Account 2017 and Arun District Council’s Local Plan 2018. Delivery of this strategy will be monitored and the Action Plan reviewed on an annual basis.

I commend this strategy and action plan to you and look forward to delivering many of the objectives in collaboration with our partners, stakeholders and customers.

Councillor Trevor Bence (Portfolio Holder for Housing)

*Average house price £286,000, (Housing Needs Evidence Report 2016, by consultants GL Hearn).

*Average salary £16,432 pa, (Annual Survey of Hours & Earning, Office of National Statistics.

2. Executive Summary

Arun faces some significant housing challenges and we are committed to tackling them, putting our customers at the heart of our service.

This Housing & Homeless Strategy sets four main objectives for the period 2019- 2021:

  1. Increase housing supply across all tenures
  2. Prevent & relieve homelessness
  3. Improve housing conditions across all tenures
  4. Create sustainable communities to meet the needs of all residents

The Strategy is informed by the Homelessness Review undertaken in 2018 (Appendix 2) as well as running in parallel to the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2017 and the Arun Local Plan 2018. The Action Plan to meet the four objectives is set out in Appendix 1. This Action Plan will be monitored throughout the life of the Strategy, with annual progress reviews.

3. Arun - Key Facts

Arun District covers 85 square miles and is located between Brighton and Portsmouth on the coast of West Sussex, with the South Downs to the north and the English Channel to the south. The main urban developments are on the coast, with the main centres of population in Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Arundel. The north of the district is predominantly rural, forming part of the South Downs National Park.

It is an area of contrasting economic fortunes: prosperous by national standards but with significant areas of poverty and housing need. Five of the most deprived wards in West Sussex are found in Littlehampton and Bognor Regis.

The mid-year population estimate for Arun, published in June 2017, was 157,000 residents across the district: an increase from 149,600 in the 2011 census. The population of Arun is projected to rise to 165,100 by 2021 (Office of National Statistics 2014-based Subnational Population Projections). The mid-year estimate published in 2017 showed that almost 45,000 residents were over 65 years, and 28,000 were under 18 years. Unemployment levels are lower than the national average, at 3.3 per cent (at December 2017). The national average is 4.1 per cent.

The main housing tenure is owner occupation, with just under 50,000 households in that tenure in the 2011 census. This represents approximately 75 per cent of the total 67,000 households (Housing Needs Evidence Report 2016, by consultants GL Hearn). In the 2011 census, just over 10,000 households were recorded as living in the private rented sector and just under 6,000 households in social rented accommodation. The average house price in the district is £286,000 (at June 2018), with the average price of a terrace house at £242,000 (at June 2018) and the average price of a flat at £169,000 (at June 2018). The average private sector rent for a 2 bedroom property in June 2018 is £818 per calendar month.

As at August 2018, the Council is the largest social housing provider in the district and owns and manages 3,338 social rented homes, 45 shared ownership and 454 leasehold properties. 17+ Registered Partners (Housing Associations) have affordable housing stock within Arun, as well a number of housing/homelessness charities.

4. Objective 1: Increase Housing Supply across all Tenures

  • To supply the housing that Arun residents need
  • To maximise Homes England grant funding to ADC
  • To make housing affordable and sustainable
  • To work in partnership with Housing Associations to maximise delivery of affordable housing

Summary of actions

  • Maximise the development of affordable homes
  • Develop & acquire affordable Council homes for rent
  • Enable the development of affordable extra care housing
  • Promote community-led housing
  • Bring empty properties back into use
  • Make best use of Council housing and private rented sector accommodation

4.1 Housing needs in Arun

In 2016 Arun District Council commissioned an updated Housing Needs Evidence Report from the consultants, GL Hearn. This report highlighted the net need for affordable housing of 480 dwellings in Arun per annum.

The Council’s Local Plan promotes a requirement of 1,000 dwellings per annum to 2031. The Local Plan stipulates the percentage of affordable homes that must be provided on each site. Developments of 11+ properties are expected to include 30% affordable housing on-site as an integral part of the scheme. Developers must include an affordable housing statement alongside their planning application, including a S.106 application for developments of 11 units or more. The statement must show detail of the size and room layout of the properties, their compliance with Homes England design standards and building regulations and stipulate the tenure split of the development.

One indicator of housing demand is the number of applicants on the Housing Register, which had 900 applicant households in August 2018. This Housing & Homelessness Strategy sets a target of 250 affordable homes per annum over the two year period of this Strategy (2019-21), totalling 500 by March 2021. This includes 30 new Council homes, as a proportion of the 10 year HRA Business Plan target.

4.2 Affordable Homes for Rent and Sale

Housing affordability can be challenging for many households in Arun as a result of the relationship between house prices and local incomes. The 2016 GL Hearn Housing Needs Evidence Report revealed a high number of households unable to afford accommodation. In 2015, households required an income of £32,000 to access the housing market to buy a property within the lower quartile price bracket. Those with a household income below £26,700 require Affordable rented housing and those with an income below £18,400 can only afford social rented housing.

As the majority of households on the Council’s housing register have incomes below £18,400 per annum, the delivery of rented housing that is truly affordable remains a priority for the Council.

The government definition of affordable housing includes social rented (rents set at between 50-60 per cent of market rents), affordable rented (rents set at up to 80 per cent of market rents) and intermediate housing provided to qualifying households whose needs are not met by the housing market.

Affordable housing should include provisions to remain affordable for future qualifying households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision in Arun. Therefore the Council will seek to ensure that Affordable Rented properties provided by Registered Partners are set below the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate.

Arun’s Affordable Housing policy requires developers to contribute to the provision of affordable housing. The level of the affordable housing contribution for each development will be negotiated through S.106 legal agreements and is determined subject to financial viability. The nomination agreements between Arun and Registered Partners will be reviewed and updated.

For all developments of 11 residential units or more, the Council requires a minimum of 30% of the total number of proposed units to be provided as affordable housing, as an integral part of the overall development scheme. We will continue to work with developers to discuss viable S.106 contributions towards affordable housing. In those developments where 30% affordable housing may not be viable, an alternative arrangement may be considered, this might involve an off-site provision as part of another development within the Arun District; or agreements for other community benefits.

In its negotiations for affordable housing, the Council will seek free-serviced land, with utilities and roads provided by the developer at no extra cost to the Council or Registered Provider. In its Local Plan the Council recommends the following mix of affordable housing for each property size:

Affordable housing mix recommendations
  1 bedroom 2 bedrooms 3 bedrooms 4+ bedrooms
Intermediate/Starter Homes 15-20% 50-55% 25-30% 0-5%
Rented 35-40% 30-35% 20-25% 5-10%

4.3 Council homes for rent

The Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2017 establishes the commitment to explore development opportunities to build new homes on Housing-owned land, which do not exceed the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate and also to acquire properties on the open market when it is prudent to do so.

The Council housing development programme in the HRA Business Plan sets a target of 250 new Council homes over a 10 year period (by 2027/28). This is set against the projected loss of Council dwellings through the Right to Buy process. Based on recent experience the Council is expected to lose approximately 200 homes through the Right to Buy over the same 10 year period. Therefore the development programme will enable the Council to increase its housing stock by a minimum of 50 homes.

The recent Social Housing Green Paper clarifies the government’s intention to end the previous plans to force the sale of high-value Council homes in order to fund the Right to Buy of housing association properties. This announcement means that Arun will not lose its high-value property assets or an applied value of its stock through this previously proposed policy.

In addition, the Social Housing Green Paper states an intention to consult on proposals to change the requirements for Councils to spend the capital receipts from Right to Buy sales. It is possible that new legislation will include greater flexibilities for local authorities to determine how to invest these receipts. This Housing & Homelessness Strategy commits to adhere to any changes in legislation or government guidance regarding the ongoing investment of capital receipts from the Right to Buy.

4.4 Supported Housing

Arun District Council does not have a statutory responsibility for the provision of social care. This duty is held by West Sussex County Council (WSCC). Up until 2018/19 WSCC has continued to fund housing related support services.

At the time of drafting this Strategy, West Sussex County Council is reviewing its budgetary commitments for its Housing Related Support Programme to assist vulnerable clients across the county, such as adults with mental health issues, homeless clients, victim of domestic abuse, young people leaving care and the elderly.

Arun will need to review and update its proposed strategic action plan tasks for the support of these client groups in the light of any funding decisions made by WSCC which may impact the services available to Arun clients.

One of the main objectives of this Housing & Homelessness strategy is to create sustainable communities to meet the needs of all residents. We are keen to support vulnerable people to live a full and independent life with the same choices, opportunities and responsibilities as the rest of the community. Working in partnership, WSCC and Arun District Council can improve the lives of residents who need supported housing. We are committed to working with WSCC to develop a shared understanding of the overall level of need for supported housing, both now and in the future. We are prepared to consider the creative use of land and existing assets and to work collaboratively with the county council and other partners.

We will therefore help to support the delivery of appropriate supported housing in the Arun District as part of our housing enabling function.

4.5 Community-Led Housing

As part of this strategy the Council will promote Community Land Trusts (CLTs) as part of its commitment to affordable housing across the District.

CLTs provide affordable homes for local people in need, for rent or shared ownership, by acquiring land and holding it as a community asset in perpetuity.

In delivering a supply of affordable housing, the Council will consider and promote a range of development options for community-led housing. The CLT mechanism can contribute to maintaining housing affordability, provide low cost workspace for local services and simultaneously capture increases in land values for lasting community benefit.

4.6 Bring Empty Properties Back Into Use

We are committed to continuing to work with owners of empty properties to encourage them to bring them back into residential use. We will continue to promote the Empty Property Assistance programme and provide grants and loans, as well guidance for property owners. We remain committed to our target of bringing 30 empty properties back into use per annum.

4.7 Make Best use of Council Housing Stock

The Housing service aims to make best use of its Council housing stock. We will review the verification procedures for the allocation of social housing is made according to the criteria set out in the Housing Allocation Scheme, offering the right size and type of accommodation to meet the needs of each household.

We will continue to promote the Under-Occupation Financial Incentive Resettlement Scheme, encouraging tenants to downsize to the right size property.

The Council’s Tenancy Policy sets out the criteria to determine which property types and households will be offered a Fixed term tenancy and which will qualify for a Secure ‘life-time’ tenancy. This helps the Council to ensure social housing is available for those households in greatest need.

The Housing Fraud initiative has been successful in investigating cases where social housing has not been used for the purpose it was intended, such as cases where a Council tenant sub-lets their property or no longer occupies it as their main home. This is another tool to allow the Council to ensure the social housing stock is used for households in the highest housing need. We will aim to achieve our target of bringing 10 properties back into legitimate use per year.

4.8 Make best use of Private Rented Sector Accommodation

We will continue to provide assistance to homeless households to secure accommodation in the private rented sector with the Rent Deposit Bond scheme, which is agreed between landlord, tenant and the Council in lieu of an up-front deposit; and the Rent in Advance scheme. We will offer support and guidance to landlords and tenants on future legislative changes and best practice, including the proposed changes to tenants’ fees in the Tenants’ Fees Bill.

5. Objective 2: To Prevent and Relieve Homelessness

  • To deliver early intervention actions alongside effective partnership working to prevent homelessness
  • To reduce rough sleeping through multi-agency partnerships and supported pathways towards sustainable housing

Summary of actions:

  • Administer & embed the full duties of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
  • Undertake effective early intervention to prevent homelessness
  • Increase accommodation solutions
  • Reduce the use of Emergency Accommodation
  • Make best use of Arun’s Temporary Accommodation

Arun’s strategic homelessness objectives deal with the complex issues surrounding homelessness. The strategy considers the causes and contributory factors of homelessness and the particular challenges within the district and across the south-east.

The central focus of this strategy is to administer and embed the full duties of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 which was implemented from April 2018. The new legislation sets new duties for local authorities to Prevent homelessness for households who are threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days; and to Relieve homelessness for households who are already homeless.

This strategy also incorporates the Council’s objectives in response to rough sleeping, with its wider social and health causes and the resultant impact on other services. Rough sleeping and the associated issues of the ‘street community’ link into the work of other Arun teams, including Community Safety and the Anti-Social Behaviour team, as well as a range of partner agencies and organisations.

5.1 Review of Homelessness

To inform this Housing & Homelessness Strategy, we have fulfilled the statutory requirement to undertake review of homelessness in the Arun district. The Homelessness review is set out in Appendix A of this Strategy.

It provides detail of the homelessness demand placed on Arun district council’s Housing Options team, which includes a total number of households seeking housing advice and assistance in the last three years of:

Total number of households approaching ADC per annum
Total number of households approaching ADC per annum
2015/16 774
2016/17 775
2017/18 742

The Review also sets out the data from snapshot estimates of the number of rough sleepers in the district over the last six years:

No. of rough sleepers in Arun estimated in snapshot estimate per year
No. of rough sleepers in Arun estimated in snapshot estimate per year
November 2012 24
November 2013 18
November 2014 13
November 2015 15
November 2016 19
November 2017 17
November 2018 18

The Homelessness Review also considers the main causes of homelessness in Arun and the external national and regional factors which impact homelessness in the area, particularly for the vulnerable groups which are highlighted in the Homelessness Code of Guidance, such as the elderly, care leavers, those leaving prison & hospital and those with physical or mental health issues.

Finally, the Homelessness Review considers the resources which are currently available to address homelessness by the effective assessment of housing & support needs; the current gaps in services; and the ways that the Council’s Strategic objectives for 2019-2021 can aim to fill those gaps in service with the assistance of local partners.

5.2 Strategic Objectives for Homelessness 2019-2021

The Homelessness Reduction Act is the most significant and comprehensive change to homelessness legislation since the Homeless Persons Act of 1977. It sets new duties for local housing authorities to provide advice and assistance to all households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days (as compared to the previous 28 days), irrespective of their priority need status. These new duties mean that particular cohorts of homeless clients will be entitled to the same housing and support needs assessment, developed with an Adviser into a Personalised Housing Plan, irrespective of any previous adverse homelessness decision taken by the Council.

The legislation sets new requirements to engage with each applicant and to negotiate a reasonable Personalised Housing Plan to prevent or relieve their homelessness and to help them to secure sustainable accommodation. The Homelessness Code of Guidance 2018 interprets the legislation and provides helpful detail on the way that local housing authorities should implement it.

We will continue to learn from good practice developed in the Trailblazer authorities who undertook the new legislative duties during 2016/17 as well as from the Welsh authorities where new homelessness legislation was introduced from April 2015 (The Housing (Wales) Act 2014).

We will introduce policies and procedures for all aspects of the Homelessness Reduction Act, including the Duty to Refer which is implemented from October 2018. We will review our procedures and our liaison with partners and referring bodies to ensure we maximise opportunities for early intervention to prevent homelessness.

Most specifically we will develop pathways alongside our partners to provide targeted support and appropriate accommodation solutions for the particular vulnerable groups which are highlighted within the Homelessness Reduction Act. These groups are the elderly; those with mental ill health, a learning disability or physical disability; young people leaving care or foster homes; the ex-Armed Forces; those leaving prison; and those who have been made homeless as a result of threats of violence or harassment.

We will review and update the information that is made available to clients and external agencies, including updating the guidance on the Arun website. We will make good use of digital and information technology as well as social media to inform and communicate with clients, and to allow opportunities for self-service.

As part of this initiative we will revise the ‘offer’ to landlords and agents in nominating suitable clients and providing tenancy support.

We will continue the positive partnership working with the Council’s Empty Property Officer to provide incentives for owners to bring their property back into residential use, making them available to Relieve homelessness for clients nominated by the Housing Options team, for at least a 12 month tenancy.

We will also continue the success of the High Risk Eviction projects to proactively manage tenancies within Arun’s Council housing and with partner housing associations to prevent eviction for tenants who are at high-risk of losing their home due to rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.

Arun currently relies on Emergency Accommodation (such as Bed & Breakfast establishments) to provide immediate accommodation solutions for those who would otherwise have nowhere to live. This form of accommodation can be unsuitable for households’ needs, often with shared kitchen or bathroom facilities, as well as being expensive for the Council.

Arun is committed to reducing its use of nightly-paid Emergency Accommodation (EA). We also aim to avoid placing any homeless households into Emergency or Temporary Accommodation outside of West Sussex, except where this is absolutely necessary.

We will review and improve the procedures for placements in Emergency & Temporary Accommodation as well as the management of those placements and collection of charges from clients.

Arun has its own stock of Temporary Accommodation (TA) both within the Housing Revenue Account and also financed from the Council’s General Fund. Most of this TA is self-contained, with units of varying sizes from bedsits to 3 & 4 bedroom houses. We will continue to maintain and improve these properties and also seek to maximise opportunities to acquire new forms of temporary accommodation as a cost-effective solution to eliminating the use of expensive nightly-paid Emergency Accommodation.

As part of the support for households living in Arun’s TA, we will provide support to enable clients to be tenancy-ready for move-on to sustainable accommodation.

5.3 Strategic Objectives for Rough Sleeping

The Arun Housing and Community Safety teams have worked hard together over a number of years to develop strong partnership links to tackle the issues of rough sleeping in the district. We work effectively with partners in Sussex Police, Probation, Mental Health services and Adult Social Care to understand and address the causes of street homelessness, as well as seeking shared solutions in order to address them on an operational level. Monthly meetings of the Arun Street Community MARAC discuss individual rough sleepers and members of the street community. The aim is to work together on individualised solutions to reduce the risk factors of rough sleeping, anti-social behaviour, criminal activity, mental & physical health issues and substance misuse. The purpose of the MARAC is to move each client towards a stable lifestyle and sustainable accommodation solutions.

Funding has been obtained to support the work to tackle rough sleeping in Arun. In 2016/17 a joint bid from all of the Councils across West & East Sussex were successful in their bid for £470,000 Rough Sleeper Grant. In Arun the funding has enabled the employment of a second Street Community Outreach Keyworker to work alongside the existing post funded through the Safer Arun Partnership. The Keyworkers undertake intensive, personalised support for individual rough sleepers, achieving successful outcomes for several clients with complex needs.

We commit to ongoing partnership working to tackle the complex issues of the street community in Arun.

Arun has a number of homelessness charities and housing support organisations based within its district. These include Stonepillow, Turning Tides (previously named Worthing Churches Homeless Project) and Bognor Housing Trust, each of which is well respected within the local community with a clear understanding of its client group and the most effective pathways and solutions to complex and entrenched homelessness.

Arun’s response to rough sleeping would not be possible without the work of these organisations, and we are committed to a continuation of these positive and cooperative working relationships.

In addition to the night hostel provision at Elleasdale Road, Bognor Regis, provided via Stonepillow, Arun provides additional bed spaces for rough sleepers in the winter as part of the Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP). This service is managed by Stonepillow in partnership with Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Bognor Regis, and funded by Arun. In the harsh winter weather of 2017/18, 47 individuals were assisted by SWEP. We are committed to the continuation of SWEP during cold and inclement weather.

We will continue to work with sub-regional partners on the strategic responses to rough sleeping, taking advantage of any funding opportunities for homelessness prevention for this cohort of clients.

The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government recently announced a new Rough Sleeping Strategy to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027. Arun will continue to take proactive action to address street homelessness and will be open to new initiatives and approaches which may emerge as part of the government’s Strategy.

6. Objective 3: Improve the housing conditions across all tenures

  • To work with landlords and owners to reduce hazards for occupants and visitors
  • To enforce standards
  • To improve energy efficiency and accessibility across all housing tenures
  • To review and update Arun’s lettable standard

Summary of actions

  • Ensure up to date policies, procedures, and practice Council housing, Emergency Accommodation & Temporary Accommodation
  • Remove Housing Health and Safety Rating System Category 1 & 2 hazards
  • Provide effective regulation of HMOs
  • Provide advice & information to landlords
  • Ensure consistent, centralised health & safety reporting & monitoring

We are committed to ensuring all residential accommodation is safe and healthy, and complies with relevant legislation and regulation. We will continue to provide advice and information to property owners and to Arun residents about the health and safety requirements for different types of dwellings. We will enforce standards using legislative powers as necessary.

We are committed to improving the energy efficiency of residential properties across all tenures and to tackle the issue of fuel poverty which can cause residents to have insufficient means to adequately heat their homes, with the associated risks to health and wellbeing.

6.1 Social Housing Regulatory Standards

Social landlords are required to comply with the Home Standard: to meet statutory health & safety requirements for all aspects of building a housing safety, such as fire precaution and safety and legionella testing for water safety.

The safety of our residents is of paramount importance and Arun is committed to an urgent review of all policies and procedures in relation to these essential landlord requirements for Arun’s Council housing stock. We will ensure that regular assessments and inspections are undertaken and monitored in sheltered housing, general needs housing and Temporary Accommodation.

We are also committed to ensuring that the properties used for Emergency Accommodation (EA) & Temporary Accommodation (TA) comply with relevant Regulatory Standards. This includes: TA properties owned by the Council’s Housing Revenue Account; TA financed by the General Fund; and EA placements in the private sector.

6.2 Housing Health & Safety Regulation System (HHSRS)

The Council remains committed to improving housing conditions across all housing tenures. The Private Sector Housing team will work collaboratively with Housing teams to undertake HHSRS inspections and to advise property owners about the category 1 & 2 hazards which must be rectified to make properties free from hazards for occupants and any visitors.

We will implement new procedures for the operation of the Rent Deposit Bond and Rent in Advance schemes as homelessness prevention mechanisms. These will involve HHSRS inspections of all private rented sector properties to ensure compliance prior to authorising financial support and assistance through these schemes.

Similarly, all properties used as Emergency Accommodation (EA) for homeless households will be inspected annually to ensure compliance with HHSRS. This will include self-contained properties, as well as EA with shared facilities, such as Bed & Breakfast. Non-compliant EA will not be used to place homeless households by the Arun Housing Options team.

6.3 Houses in Multiple-Occupation (HMOs)

The regulations for licensing of HMOs changed with effect from 1 October 2018. The new definition of an HMO is any property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households.

The Private Sector Housing team will continue to operate clear processes for the licensing of HMOs. The team will undertake inspections and respond to reports from partner agencies and customers to identify unlicensed HMOs and to take appropriate enforcement action against landlords and owners.

6.4 Advice and Information for Landlords

We will continue to support the Landlords’ Forum, with two meetings per year, to help to raise standards in the private rented sector and to provide guidance on best practice in the sector. We will continue to promote the Landlord Accreditation scheme.

We will review and update the advice for landlords on the Arun website. In particular we will ensure that changes in legislation and regulation which apply to the private rented sector are made available on the website and by other media. This includes the imminent legislative changes to tenants’ fees and the possible future changes to the minimum length of private rented sector tenancies.

6.5 Health & Safety Reporting and Monitoring

Housing teams will work in cooperation with colleagues in the Private Sector Housing team to ensure consistency in centralised health & safety reporting. We will explore digital solutions to ensure property information is gathered and made available to all teams who need it to be effective in their roles.

7 Objective 4: Create sustainable communities to meet the needs of all residents

  • To deliver services that meet individual needs
  • To be aware of the needs of vulnerable cohorts and residents who may be disadvantaged in access to services
  • To increase engagement with housing services

Summary of Actions

  • Improve the energy efficiency of homes across all tenures
  • Improve access to disabled-adapted housing across all tenures
  • Make available advice & information on welfare benefits, money & debt advice & income maximisation
  • Increase engagement with communities and residents’ groups
  • Prevent & tackle anti-social behaviour in Arun neighbourhoods

7.1 Energy Efficiency

The Council is committed to investigating ‘green’ solutions to energy sources. We will undertake schemes to improve insulation and heating systems in Council properties in order to increase the energy efficiency of the properties and to contribute to savings in energy bills for Council tenants. This planned programme will be informed by the findings of the 100% stock condition survey, due for completion in Autumn 2018.

We will continue the Warm Homes project: replacing electric heating with gas central heating in 700 Council housing properties by March 2021 as well as the collective switching initiative.

For properties in the private-rented and owner-occupied sector, the Private Sector Housing team will continue to comply with the requirement to produce the biennial Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) reports by 31 March 2019 and 31 March 2021.

The Private Sector Housing team will also continue to identify funding and deliver schemes to assist property owners in improving the energy efficiency of private rented and owner-occupied properties.

7.2 Access to Disabled-Adapted Housing

The HRA Business Plan 2017 sets out that £400k per annum has been set aside for disabled adaptations to meet anticipated demand for adaptations within Council properties. We will undertake a review of the data about disabled adaptations that are currently held on the QL housing software system, and work to update this, informed by the stock condition survey, to have a clear understanding of where adaptations have been installed.

We will use this data to ensure effective allocation of social housing, to maximise their best use for clients who require them.

Working in partnership with West Sussex County Council, we will continue to promote and administer the Disabled Facilities Grants scheme to arrange adaptations in homes across other tenures through the district.

7.3 Money Advice

The Council offers money & debt advice to Housing customers to assist them to manage their household bills and in particular to sustain their current accommodation. The Money Adviser will continue to provide annual training and guidance to Housing colleagues to enable them to provide advice to the customers in Council housing tenancies, in Temporary Accommodation and those who approach the Council when threatened with homelessness. We will also continue to link in with other agencies just as the Advice Bureau.

We will continue to respond to Welfare Reform changes, assessing the impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit on the Housing Revenue Account and on homelessness demand. We will adapt the rent arrears processes for Council tenants in general needs housing and in TA, to manage the change in rent payments as a result of changes in welfare benefits.

We will target our responses to clients’ changing household incomes with a range of pilot initiatives, including: a disability benefits campaign to increase take-up of welfare benefits; profiling analysis of Council tenants who have other primary debts; a pilot initiative for home energy advice to tackle fuel poverty; and partnership activities with the Job Centre Plus to address worklessness alongside rent arrears actions.

7.4 Engagement with Communities and Residents

The Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2017 sets a commitment to continue to work with tenants and leaseholders to build and support successful communities.

Arun supports the objective set out in the Social Housing Green Paper sets an objective to tackle the stigma of social housing by supporting community initiatives and events.

7.5 Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)

Housing & Community Safety teams will continue to provide strong leadership, commitment and accountability in preventing and tackling anti-social behaviour in Arun communities.

We will work cooperatively with residents and partner agencies to deal with antisocial behaviour and crime in all residential areas of the district.

In partnership with other agencies we will liaise with all social landlords (the Council, Registered Partners and other housing providers) to focus on the preventative measures to tackle ASB.

In line with the proposed objectives of the Social Housing Green Paper, we will ensure that social housing tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities in relation to ASB, know how to report anti-social behaviour carried out by others and are encouraged to report it. We will continue to take prompt, appropriate and decisive action, making full use of legislative powers.

7.6 Partnership Working

We are aware that the issues faced by Arun District Council in order to meet its statutory duties and its housing and homelessness objectives are complex and challenging.

We aim to achieve optimum success and excellence in levels of customer satisfaction. However, we are aware that we will be more successful and will achieve excellent holistic customer service if we work in cooperative collaboration with our partner organisations.

In order to maximise the delivery of affordable homes in Arun, we will work in partnership with the other districts and boroughs within West Sussex, as well as West Sussex County Council, other public bodies, social housing Registered Partners (Housing Associations) and private sector land/property owners to secure suitable housing development and enabling opportunities. We will identify and develop opportunities to make best use of existing accommodation solutions within the district.

To be effective in homelessness prevention and relief, we will work in partnership with other teams and departments within Arun and with other public bodies, as well as housing and homelessness charities and service providers, to tackle the complex issues of homelessness and its inter-related societal issues.

To improve the housing conditions across all tenures we will work in cooperation with landlords, property owners and other social landlords to address issues of noncompliance with regulatory and health& safety standards in order to ensure that our clients are accommodated in properties that are safe, healthy and free from hazards.

To create sustainable communities, meeting the needs of all residents, we will work with statutory agencies and support providers to engage with customers who may be impacted by the wider economic and policy changes associated with welfare reform and changes in employment opportunities. We will ensure that clients’ support needs are being met by a range of partnership services and initiatives so that they can optimise their opportunities to obtain and sustain suitable accommodation in safe and viable communities.

Resources available for delivery

Overview

There are two distinct funding strands for Arun’s housing services:

  • Income and expenditure relating to the Council’s rented stock is accounted for in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
  • The Council’s other housing activities, including statutory duties for homelessness advice & assistance, strategy and enabling functions are accounted for in the General Fund.

The HRA and the General Fund each have their own annual budget, with longer term issues addressed through the HRA Business Plan and the (General Fund) Medium Term financial strategy.

Details of the various funding sources are set out below, together with an outline of challenges for the future.

7.7 Housing Revenue Account

HRA expenditure is financed chiefly from rental income, borrowing and “1 for 1” receipts. These are the additional receipts generated by the relaxation of the Right to Buy discount rules, which Arun retains subject to the condition that they are spent on the provision of new social housing.

The most significant challenge for the future will be to sustain the acquisition/new-build programme at a level sufficient to replace the dwellings lost through Right to Buy. The Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2017 envisages that most new homes will be procured from housebuilders, to fulfil developers’ legal requirements to provide new affordable homes as part of a larger development under S.106 planning agreements. Nine new dwellings have already been procured in this way.

However, the recent Social Housing Green Paper and associated public consultation proposes changes to the way “1 for 1” Right to Buy receipts may be used. This could have significant implications for the future acquisition/new-build programme.

7.8 General Fund

The General Fund covers all the Council’s activities with the exception of the management and maintenance of the Council’s rented stock. General Fund expenditure is financed from a number of sources including: retained business rates; New Homes Bonus; Council Tax income; fees & charges; and grants.

Funding for General Fund Housing Services includes:

  • £1.8m per annum for core housing services, including homelessness, housing advice and private sector housing
  • Additional funding from the Flexible Homeless Support Grant (£1.2m over the three years from 2017/18 to 2019/20)
  • A capital budget of £2.1m for the acquisition of temporary accommodation to alleviate homelessness (the first units purchased from this budget are now in use)
  • A capital programme for Disabled Facilities Grants financed by the Better Care Fund (up to £1.5m for 2018/19)
  • Grant payments to Registered Providers of Social Housing, financed by planning agreement sums

The Council’s General Fund faces unprecedented uncertainty in terms of government funding, with both New Homes Bonus and the income from business rates expected to reduce significantly.

There is further uncertainty associated with the Fair Funding review which will determine funding allocations from 2020/21. These issues will impact on all Council services, including housing, where there are specific concerns relating to the increase in homelessness and the uncertainty regarding the availability of Flexible Homeless Support Grant beyond 2019/20.

The Council will need to ensure that it can meet these challenges through savings, the seeking of new external funding opportunities and a review of service delivery, as set out in this Strategy.

8. Monitoring & Review of the Strategy

The delivery of the Action Plan objectives will be led by Arun’s Residential Services management team, working holistically on the Strategy’s 4 objectives which cut across the Strategic and operational business areas of Residential Services.

The Action Plan will be monitored by the Residential Services managers throughout the life of the Strategy. An annual progress review will be reported to Members at the Housing & Customer Services Working Group and to Cabinet, providing updates on progress to date on the 4 main objectives and the actions that have been undertaken in order to achieve them. The annual progress reviews will be available to customers and stakeholders through the Council’s democratic process.

9. Conclusion:

This Strategy sets out the housing challenges which Arun District Council will face in providing Housing and Homelessness services for its residents and customers for period 2019-2021.

The Strategy reviews the progress that has been made during the course of the three previous individual strategies: Raise the Roof Housing Strategy, 2010-2015; Arun’s Homelessness Strategy, 2012-2016; and Arun’s Rough Sleeper Strategy, 2013-2016. These individual strategies each enabled progress in Arun’s housing & homelessness objectives.

The 2019-2021 Strategy sets out the 4 new objectives for the Council to make further significant and meaningful progress:

  1. Increase housing supply across all tenures
  2. Prevent & relieve homelessness
  3. Improve the housing conditions across all tenures
  4. Create sustainable communities to meet the needs of all residents

The Strategy is informed by the Homelessness Review undertaken in 2018 (Appendix A) as well as running in parallel to the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2017 and the Arun Local Plan 2018.

The tasks that will be undertaken to meet the four objectives are set out in the Action Plan (Appendix B). This Action Plan will be monitored throughout the life of the Strategy, with annual progress reviews.

10.Bibliography / Supporting Documents:

  • Arun Allocation Scheme 2012, updated 2018
  • Arun Homelessness Strategy 2012-2016
  • Arun Housing Strategy, ‘Raise the Roof’ 2010-2015
  • Arun Local Plan 2017
  • Arun Rough Sleeping Strategy 2013-2016
  • Arun Tenancy Strategy
  • Homelessness Code of Guidance 2018
  • Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
  • Housing Asset Management Strategy 2012-15
  • Housing Needs Evidence Report 2016, by consultants GL Hearn
  • Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2017
  • Office of National Statistics 2014-based Subnational Population Projections
  • Social Housing Green Paper, MHCLG 2018

11. Appendix One - Action Plan

Please refer to the pdf for Appendix one.

Homelessness Strategy 2019 to 2021 [pdf] 376KB

If you require an accessible version please email webmaster@arun.gov.uk