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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 03/03/2003
Key Worker Housing



In the past, Members of this Overview and Scrutiny Committee have enquired about the work being undertaken by this Council to assist Key Workers to secure affordable housing. This report advises the Committee on progress being made in respect of the provision of accommodation for Key Workers who work in the Borough of Waverley.

There are no additional resource implications as the provision of 1,000,000 capital over two years by way of LA SHG has already been approved in the Capital Programme.
APPENDIX G
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 3RD MARCH 2003


Title:
KEY WORKER HOUSING
[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and Purpose

In the past, Members of this Overview and Scrutiny Committee have enquired about the work being undertaken by this Council to assist Key Workers to secure affordable housing. This report advises the Committee on progress being made in respect of the provision of accommodation for Key Workers who work in the Borough of Waverley.

There are no additional resource implications as the provision of 1,000,000 capital over two years by way of LA SHG has already been approved in the Capital Programme.



Introduction

1. Over very recent years, there has been a growing recognition that the housing market has become so expensive that many people on modest incomes no longer can hope to buy a property in much of the south-east of England. The last Housing Needs Survey conducted in Waverley in 2001 identified that households needed an income of 30,000 to command a mortgage to be able to afford to buy a one-bedroom property in the Borough.

2. At the same time, there is much anecdotal evidence from public and private sector employers that there is a problem recruiting staff and a major factor cited is the issue of affordability of housing.

3. In 2000, the County and Borough/District Councils commissioned a piece of work through Cambridge University which resulted, in 2001, in the production of the document “Housing to Underpin Economic Success”. This reinforced the need for affordable housing for a range of people on modest incomes in Surrey who can no longer expect to access the housing market.

Starter Home Initiative

4. The issue has risen up the Regional agenda and also at a national level, so much so that in 2001, the Government announced the “Starter Home Initiative”, through which the Housing Corporation would allocate funding to housing associations to enable Key Workers to purchase homes on the open market on shared ownership terms. A

Surrey-wide bid was made to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister by the Borough/District Council housing authorities, Surrey County Council, the NHS and Surrey Police, with Thames Valley Housing Association as the housing association partner to deliver the programme.

5. The Starter Home Initiative is aimed, in the main, at a relatively small segment of “Key Workers” – health workers, teachers, fire fighters, police and a small number of social workers.

6. The Starter Homes scheme enables Key Workers to choose a property on the open market suitable to their needs within a certain price range. Thames Valley Housing Association will then either:

provide a cash sum by way of a loan which does not have to be repaid until the house is sold (the Loan Method); or

purchase the property and sell on a share of it to the Key Worker. The Key Worker has a conventional mortgage on the share owned, and pays rent to the housing association on the share owned by the association (the Shared Ownership Method).

7. Since the Starter Home Initiative was launched, the following numbers of Key Workers have been helped into shared-ownership or are in the process of being considered for the scheme:

Borough/
District
Completions
Scheme Approval
Transactions Arranged
Eligibility Verified
Applications
Received
Total
Waverley
23
1
3
5
7
39
Runnymede
31
1
0
10
2
44
Reigate
35
1
6
22
8
72
Guildford
21
3
4
20
12
60
Woking
16
1
3
4
1
25
Surrey Heath
17
1
0
11
7
36
Elmbridge
10
0
1
1
7
19
Epsom
10
1
5
12
2
30
Tandridge
8
0
2
6
2
18
Spelthorne
13
1
0
8
1
23
Mole Valley
2
0
1
4
3
10

Other Work in Waverley in respect of Key Worker Housing

Waverley’s Essential Worker Scheme

8. Though the Government’s Starter Home Initiative had much to commend it, one of the problems was the fairly restricted definition of the term “Key Worker”. In order to meet the needs of a wider range of “Key Workers”, the Council agreed to extend opportunities to others who are important to the economic and social life of the Waverley community. The initial step was for the Council to develop its own definition of “Essential Worker” and the following definition was agreed in 2002:

Person or persons who live or are employed in the Borough of Waverley who provide essential services which are beneficial to the community, for example: health, education, care, rescue or police, or as agreed by the Director of Housing.”

9. Working with Surrey Heath Housing Association, eight new homes at Tyndalls Pine, Hindhead have been made available to Key Workers and Essential Workers on shared-ownership terms. Another ten shared-ownership properties are being offered to households on the Housing Needs Register. The affordable element of this development is due for completion in March 2003. There are proposals for another two houses to be made available for Key Workers for rent and a separate report is recommending making LA SHG available for this purpose.

Do-It-Yourself-Shared-Ownership

10. The Council also approved expenditure of 1,000,000 by way of Local Authority Social Housing Grant over two years (2002/03 and 2003/04) to enable twenty Essential Workers to access housing through Do-It-Yourself-Shared-Ownership (DIYSO). At the time of writing this report (February 2003), there are 50 Essential Workers exploring DIYSO as an option.

Partnership Working

11. Working in partnership with the Rural Housing Trust, officers of this Council have been promoting the idea of using surplus County Council property to secure affordable housing for staff who are in the employ of the County Council. As a pilot exercise, work is being undertaken on a site in the County Council’s ownership in Bramley. It is hoped that four flats will be developed for Surrey’s Essential Workers.

12. The Rural Housing Trust is also in conversation with Godalming Town Council in respect of a parcel of land in its ownership, with a view to promoting a small development of Key Worker housing.

13. Discussions have also taken place with a local school to examine how to progress a surplus area of land to enable housing for teaching staff.

Challenge Fund

14. In the autumn of 2002, the Government announced the Challenge Fund scheme – whereby the Housing Corporation was enabled to offer housing associations capital funding for schemes with planning permission and a firm completion date. In Waverley, Pavilion Housing Association successfully bid for this funding with a view to promoting shared-ownership on the following sites:

Upper Weybourne Lane, Farnham 12 one-bedroom flats
Junction Place, Haslemere 7 two and three-bedroom properties
Shortheath Road, Farnham 7 one-bedroom flats

15. It is hoped that all of these schemes will be completed by the end of March 2004 at the latest.

Financial and Other Implications

16. Much of the supply of affordable housing is being financed through Government initiatives from funding through the Housing Corporation – Starter Home Initiative and Challenge Fund. The financial implication for Waverley is the 1,000,000 funding being provided for the DIYSO scheme which has already been considered and approved by this Committee and by the Executive.


Recommendation

It is recommended that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee welcomes the work being undertaken to assist both Key Workers and Essential Workers.



Background Papers (DoH)

Housing to Underpin Economic Success – Cambridge University 2000



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mr J Swanton Telephone: 01483 - 523375
Email: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk





































comms/o&s2/2002-03/107 34365