Published Thursday 21 September 2017

The first part of a long-term strategic plan to increase homeownership by creating affordable housing and helping residents out of homelessness is due to be considered by the council.

The first part of a long-term strategic plan to increase homeownership by creating affordable housing and helping residents out of homelessness is due to be considered by the council.

A new homelessness strategy will go before the Royal Borough’s cabinet on Thursday 28 September. It is the first document in a three-step strategy to help residents onto the housing ladder.

The council has already committed to encouraging developers to provide 30 percent affordable housing in future developments but the emerging Borough Local Plan and Supplementary Housing Document (Affordable Housing) will build on this, creating a borough for everyone.

The Royal Borough will sign up to meet central government’s 10 Gold Standard challenges to reduce homelessness as the first step in an approach to secure affordable and appropriate accommodation for every resident.

The Homelessness Strategy 2017-22 lays out how the council will reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation and increase prevention services.

Cllr Ross McWilliams, deputy lead member for policy and affordable housing, said: “This is just the first step in an overarching scheme to support residents into homeownership and improve the supply of affordable housing across the borough.

“We will enable people to support themselves wherever possible in finding a more suitable home.

“We want homeownership to be open to every resident and this is the beginning of a broad plan to achieve that.

“By meeting the government’s Gold Standard we will ensure our service is best placed to help families avoid homelessness.

“We are focussing on early intervention and prevention to reach people before they find themselves in a crisis.

"In 2016 the council helped 1,518 households avoid homelessness, but there is still more to do and our strategy will build on the good work we are already doing."

A range of housing options including supported, sheltered and extra care are already available to residents.

Each case will be handled on an individual basis with households that can afford alternatives to affordable housing supported to secure a private sector home.

Meanwhile those affected by welfare benefits changes will be offered support, including assistance with employment, training and financial management.

Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the council and lead member for housing, said: “Over the coming months we will deliver a comprehensive Borough Local Plan and then create a Supplementary Housing Document (Affordable Housing) to build on the foundations laid here.

“We are maximising every opportunity to prevent and reduce homelessness in the borough and creating a housing supply for residents to buy.

“Homeownership should be an option for every resident and by creating more affordable housing we can make this a reality.”

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Notes to editors: The government’s 10 Gold Standard housing objectives are:

1.    Adopt a corporate commitment to prevent homelessness which has buy in across all local authority services.

2.    Actively work in partnership with voluntary sector and other local partners to address support, education, employment and training needs.

3.    Offer a Housing Options prevention service, including written advice, to all clients

4.     Adopt a No Second Night Out model or an effective local alternative.

5.     Have housing pathways agreed or in development with each key partner and client group that includes appropriate accommodation and support.

6.    Develop a suitable private rented sector offer for all client groups, including advice and support to both clients and landlords.

7.    Actively engage in preventing mortgage repossessions including through the Mortgage Rescue Scheme.

8.    Have a homelessness strategy which sets out a proactive approach to preventing homelessness and is reviewed annually so that it is responsive to emerging needs.

9.    Not place any young person aged 16 or 17 in Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

10.    Not place any families in Bed and Breakfast accommodation unless in an emergency and then for no longer than six weeks.