Following a major public consultation held over the summer, council members have been asked to enact changes to current social housing allocation to ensure residents in the greatest need of rehousing are given the highest priority.
30% of all housing stock in the city (over 65,000) are social homes, but high demand means over 5,000 people on the register are in priority need of rehousing. As residents are choosing to stay in social housing for longer periods of time, turnover of social homes has decreased significantly. Consequently, individuals on the rehousing register are waiting longer to access a new home; the number of new lettings has decreased from 3,356 in 2015/16 to 2,644 in 2018/19.
Proposed changes, which if enacted will take effect in Autumn 2020, hope to improve accessibility to social housing for residents in the city who need it most urgently.
The current system of allocation categorises those registered for social housing into six bands depending upon the urgency of their situation, with band 1 indicating the greatest need for re-housing. The changes would reduce the number of bands in the allocation system, making it both easier to navigate and understand.
The proposals would also prevent homeowners from joining the rehousing register and lower the savings limit for applicants from £75k to £30k to ensure properties ran by not-for-profit landlords are more accessible for the city’s most vulnerable residents.
A two-year residency rule to apply to be on the rehousing register has also been recommended – the current requirement is simply to have an address based in Manchester.
It is hoped that the proposed changes will reduce the strain on social housing, allowing for the most urgent cases to be prioritised.
Councillor Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, believes the proposals will help the growing homeless population in the city: “The number of people presenting as homeless in the city has increased massively in the past few years, putting an unsustainable strain on temporary accommodation. It is right therefore that we can support these residents more effectively with improved access to social housing.”
“The housing landscape in the city has changed a lot in the last few years due to a range of factors, including welfare reform and increasing private rents. This means that demand for social housing is going up, while we continue to lose stock through Right to Buy. It’s important then that we can react to changing factors to ensure social housing can be accessed by those who need it most.”