Hampshire Home Choice - A Choice Based Lettings Scheme
The projectThe Government requires all Local Authorities to introduce a Choice Based lettings Scheme by 2010. Choice Based Lettings is about people choosing where they live and actively seeking a property rather than a local authority deciding where people should live and making “allocations”. East Hampshire District Council, Havant Borough Council, Portsmouth City Council and Winchester City Council were awarded a grant of £100,000 from the CLG in 03 August 2006 to introduce a sub regional Choice Based Lettings Scheme. Portsmouth City Council were the lead authority but unfortunately dropped out of the scheme in May 2007. The remaining authorities had to decide if they wished to proceed, who would lead on the project and the procurement process.
The vision‘To ensure that all affordable housing stock within Winchester, East Hampshire and Havant is available for customers to bid for through a web based system.
The challengeTwo authorities with no housing stock and one with a landlord function that meant there were potential different or conflicting views on the project. Different allocations policies that needed to be combined in different areas with a mixture of both rural and urban stock. Political views and processes to be taken account of. Concerns that local people may miss out on housing to applicants from other authorities. That the system may not be inclusive as not everyone has access to the internet.
The resultsWe are delighted that the project has been delivered within budget and on time when Hampshire Home Choice went “live” on 22 April 2009. There are a number of areas that represent best practice:
- A procurement and development process that saved time and money (over £30k of cashable savings)
- A single housing register (and application form) for all housing applicants (including transfers) for all three local authorities
- A common allocations policy across three authorities
- 100% of all affordable housing stock is included unlike many other CBL schemes
- The employment of a co-ordinator across the three areas
- A participation policy agreed by all 3 partners to ensure that more vulnerable people can fully access Hampshire Home Choice
- Monitoring of the system
- Monitoring of customer satisfaction
- Service User Group established
- Project Board to deliver improvements if required
- Private rented properties included, linked to Housing
- Options service
- Assessment of further efficiencies through shared service
Tracey Howard, East Hampshire District Council
Dominic Thompson, Havant Borough Council
Andrew Palmer, Winchester City Council