Reprieve for housing association cost sharing groups?
After years of uncertainty, the announcement that the…Read More › ›
For the consumer, CBL involves completing an unwieldy application form, the websites are often difficult to navigate, there is a lack of clarity as to progress with the waiting list, and there is little choice and decision time.
RPs clearly must balance their commercial interests with their requirement to fulfil their charitable objects and social purpose, in housing those vulnerable and in need, but also wanting to create sustainable and healthy communities.
With my RP board member hat on, I have wrestled with these areas and found some useful pointers at the CIH Housing conference masterclass on allocations.
South Liverpool Homes are an example of a housing provider who has moved away from CBL. Their experience of CBL was that they had no control of the system, void days were high, and it was not meeting the needs of the communities they serve.
A move away from CBL to their own straightforward, transparent application policy (date order with provision for escalation based upon need), increased demand and therefore significantly increased their waiting list, but has also led to average void days being reduced from 49 to less than 15, and a reduction of failed tenancies (costing them £3000 each time) through to 90% of their tenants staying for longer than 2 years.
They have enhanced their alternative allocations approach with a pre-tenancy course, welfare benefits support, and a policy to inspect previous homes for those transferring. Their improvements in financial metrics has far from caused them to take their eyes off their social purpose. Their CEO, Julie Fadden says they proactively go out onto the streets to find homeless people to house.
Incommunities in Bradford have also departed from CBL, but did so in conjunction with their local authority. Adrienne Reid, Incommunities’ Assistant Chief Executive – Neighbourhood Services, advocates for a blended approach, and suggested that allocations should not be the same across all of an RP’s stock. She also provided some helpful tips on what “good” looks like for an allocations policy:
No allocations system can deal with imbalances of supply and demand, but they can make things worse and create long term problems.
Senior research associate in housing and local government of De Montfort University, Dr Tim Brown also shared his findings from having carried out a large number of reviews of allocations’ policies. His key points were as follows:
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