Housing Renewal Policy
Councillor Loraine Cox, Portfolio Holder Housing and Regeneration, reported on a proposed new Housing Renewal Policy. In her introduction to the report Councillor Cox indicated that a cross-party working group would be established, reporting to the Regeneration and Housing Panel, to consider access to and the availability of Disabled Facilities Grants. The Leader of the Council and Councillors Tony Dobson and Munsif Dad also spoke in favour of the proposals.
Approval of the report was deemed a key decision.
Reasons for Decision
The Regulatory Reform (England and Wales) (Housing Assistance) Order 2002 (the RRO) grants a general power on local authorities to provide “assistance” “in any form” “to any person”, to improve, repair, adapt or rebuild residential premises.
The RRO reflects the view that it is primarily the responsibility of private sector owners to maintain their own property but it recognises that some owners, particularly the elderly and most vulnerable, do not have the necessary resources to repair or improve their homes. Local authorities therefore, subject to resources, have an important role to play in providing assistance in these cases.
Hyndburn has such a RRO Policy, or probably better described, a Housing Renewal Policy in place which was last reviewed in 2006.
Following a review, a new Housing Renewal Policy is proposed, a copy of which was provided at Appendix 1 of the report. The Policy identifies the forms of assistance, including financial assistance that will be available from the Council to assist vulnerable occupiers in all tenures including disabled people to improve or adapt their homes, the eligibility criteria for assistance and the terms upon which this assistance will be provided.
Historically, the Council has utilised the Capital Programme to fund housing renewal activity. Due to austerity measures including public sector funding cuts there is very little money now available to support housing renewal activity. However, one area where funding is increasing is for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG’s). In 2019/20 the Council is due to receive nearly £1m. DFG funding forms part of, and is allocated through the Better Care Fund (BCF). This fund is allocated to upper tier authorities (i.e. Lancashire County Council) then passed onto the Districts under ring fencing arrangements and it is expected that health priorities will become more important in the way DFG funding is spent.
RRO policies include the use of DFG funding, now allocated via the BCF as described above. This now enables local authorities to use specific DFG funding for wider purposes. Therefore, subject to an approved RRO, DFG funding can be used beyond mandatory DFG’s to support vulnerable households remaining in their existing homes. There is, therefore, an opportunity to use the additional DFG funding to support wider measures, subject to a new RRO (Housing Renewal Policy).
A summary of the key policy areas in the new Housing Renewal Policy is as follows:
· Education and Encouragement;
· Direct Financial Assistance, including:
o Mandatory Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG’s) up to £30,000;
o Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG’s);
o Additional Assistance for Vulnerable Households, (subject to funding and liquid assets/savings not exceeding £25,000);
o Facelift grants forming part of a housing renewal scheme to improve the appearance and exterior of a block of dwellings (subject to funding);
o Relocation Assistance usually where demolition is proposed under a Council led regeneration scheme (subject to funding);
o Empty Homes - to bring long term empty homes back into use (subject to funding);
· Indirect Financial Assistance; and
Alternative Options Considered and Reasons for Rejection
The Council is required to have a RRO Policy in place in order to provide various forms of housing assistance and, therefore, not having a Policy is not an option. The overall approach proposed is to provide housing assistance to the most vulnerable households across the Borough and those in greatest need.
Resolved - That Hyndburn’s new Housing Renewal Policy attached at Appendix 1 to the report be approved.
- Housing Renewal Policy Report, item 68. PDF 128 KB
- Housing Renewal Policy Final Document, item 68. PDF 737 KB
- Housing Renewal Policy Customer First Analysis, item 68. PDF 236 KB