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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 12/07/2004
APPENDIX P - AFFORDABLE HOUSING CAPITAL PROJECTS



Summary & Purpose
This report details proposals to introduce a Waverley Equity Loans scheme and a new post to deliver the Council’s aim.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX P
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 12TH JULY 2004

Title:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING CAPITAL PROJECTS
[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

This report details proposals to introduce a Waverley Equity Loans scheme and a new post to deliver the Council’s aim.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

E-Government implications:

There are no E-Government implications.

Resource and legal implications:

The Council has set aside 3.7m up to 2006/07 to support affordable housing provision.

Shared Ownership/Equity Loans

Introduction

1. The Council’s strategic aim and one of the key priorities is to deliver and enable additional affordable housing to meet the housing need in the Borough. At the service level, Housing and Planning were commended in the recent CPA judgement.


2. However, as a separate report, Affordable Housing in Waverley, details, the environment is complex and shifting. The increase in house prices means that most of the households who have identified a housing need and want to buy are now unable to achieve this ambition.

3. The Council’s Housing Enabling Officer is increasingly required to be involved at early stages of negotiation with planners and developers in respect of the affordable housing requirements of private sites. In addition, extensive liaison with the Housing Corporation, Register Social Landlord (RSLs) and other housing staff is required.

4. Over many years the Council has promoted various tenures to assist people into homes and recent Government initiatives have assisted as well as hindered this process. In particular, various shared ownership initiatives have been especially useful in this Borough.

Shared Ownership and Key Worker Schemes

5. Shared-ownership is an arrangement under which nominees of the Council can own the equity of part of a property. The relevant properties are owned either by the Council or by a Housing Association and applicants are nominated to buy part (usually with a mortgage) and pay a rent on the part they do not own. It is designed to help people who cannot buy a house outright but who wish to provide their own accommodation. All nominees have to be on the Council’s Housing Needs Register. Over the years, the scheme has made a significant contribution towards the provision of accommodation locally.

6. Currently, there are two basic means to supply the relevant properties. One method is to nominate a purchaser for the share owned in an existing shared-ownership property when the owner wants to move. The other method is to nominate purchasers to buy properties in newly-built Housing Association schemes. Separately, the Government (through the Thames Valley Housing Association) has a scheme for key workers defined to include Nurses and other NHS staff, Teachers, Police Officers and Social Workers.

7. Until April 2003 when the Government changed housing funding arrangements and abolished LASHG, the Council provided a further means. This was the DIYSO (Do-It-Yourself-Shared-Ownership) Scheme. Nominees could identify a property within the private sector (within certain price limits), the property was bought for them and simultaneously they bought a share. The Council’s available money was placed with the Thames Valley Housing Association to enable the best use to be made of the resources.

8. The DIYSO scheme was particularly useful where applicants' needs were difficult to satisfy using the other methods. It was the method used when the Council commenced its own Essential Worker scheme in 2002. This scheme was used to help local essential workers who did not fall within the Government definition of key worker and defined as people who worked within the Borough and provided an essential public or community service. It helped fire fighters, care workers and postmen. The scheme could not continue after 31st March 2003 because of the funding changes.


Equity Loan Schemes for Essential Workers

9. There remains a significant need to supply properties on a shared-ownership basis. Whilst the current two methods are well used, the supply is limited in number and will not assist some applicants. It is particularly useful where either the type or the location of accommodation is a factor. Accordingly, it is suggested that use be made of the current available housing capital receipts identified in the Social Housing Programme. 1 million would supply up to 20 properties if the money were used through Thames Valley Housing. It is suggested that any sum made available for this purpose be used over the period to 31st March 2006 to enable suitable applicants to be accommodated over a reasonable period and not simply to address current cases. The scheme is also best used in conjunction with existing schemes to provide alternative means of dealing with applicants.

10. It is suggested that the scheme be used for special cases to include essential workers based upon the existing definition of this Council, to help in cases where the Council might otherwise have to provide housing for particular applicants and generally to help free up other social housing units.

Staffing Structure

11. The current staff resources deployed to enabling include a full time, Housing Enabling Officer and a small proportion of the Director and Assistant Director’s time. The current Option Appraisal process and implementation of an agreed option will require, if the Council does not pursue the "status quo" option, the Director and Assistant Director to dedicate their time over the next 2 years to this process.

12. Accordingly, it is proposed that the Council needs to strengthen the staff resources by creating an additional post of Housing Enabling Officer and incorporate strategy work into the existing post holder’s title of Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager. As is the normal practice the costs of these proposals, including the employer's costs are detailed at grade maxima:-

Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager 5,500 [in addition to the existing budget]
Housing Enabling Officer 31,500 [new post]
___________
Total Costs at Grade Maxima 37,000

13. It is envisaged that the 2004/05 costs would be 18,500, to be met from the General Fund.

Resources

14. The Council has earmarked 3.7m of capital receipts for affordable housing, 1.7m for 2004/05, 1m for 2005/06 and 1m for 2006/07. It is suggested that 1m be made available to provide Equity Loans up to 31st March 2006. It is suggested that, as the new post and re-grading will be dedicated to the delivery and enabling of affordable housing, these costs are met as a supplementary estimate, although these full costs are unlikely to be required initially and it is estimated at 18,500 for 2004/05.

Recommendation

The Executive is recommended to recommend the Council that:-

1. 1 million of resources earmarked in the Social Housing Programme to 2006/07 be used to provide an Equity Loan scheme, to be targeted at Waverley essential workers and special cases, as determined by the Director of Housing;

2. the Director of Housing and Director of Finance work up the proposed scheme with Thames Valley Housing Association;

3. the staffing proposals, as detailed in this report, be approved; and

4. a supplementary estimate of 18,500 for 2004/05 be sought from the General Fund and appropriate budget provision be made in the [draft] estimates for 2005/05.



Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: David January Telephone: 01483 523361

E-mail: djanuary@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2004-05/094