THE Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is to investigate concerns that the way social housing is allocated could be excluding some of those most in need of the tenure.
Rethinking Allocations, as the project is known, aims to spark debate about how things could be improved, by analysing what housing associations and councils in England are doing now — and why — when it comes to allocations policy.
“Housing professionals and tenants who took part in Rethinking Social Housing raised concerns that practices such as affordability checks and tenancy sustainment initiatives could effectively screen out or exclude people considered most in need. Where are these people supposed to go?” said Terrie Alafat CBE, the CIH’s chief executive.
“Throughout this new Rethinking Allocations project, we will be looking at the different criteria used in allocation policies by councils and housing associations across England, the extent to which they’re being shaped by government policy, and the impact this is having on who is accessing and living in social rented housing.
“By understanding better what is happening now, and the reasons behind that, we’re aiming to open a debate about how things could be improved – and how we can get to a place where social housing is allocated in a way that allows it to play a central role in balanced, vibrant communities.”
Rethinking Allocations is the next stage of CIH’s Rethinking Social Housing project. The report demonstrated that while there is wide support for a much broader range of people to be able to live in social housing, in practice the shortage of genuinely affordable housing for rent means that some form of allocation system will remain necessary.
It also highlighted serious issues with the sector’s ability to support people on very low incomes. Housing professionals who took part said the shortage of homes for social rent is affecting their ability to help people in housing need.
According to research from Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 70% of councils across England find it difficult to help people access social housing to prevent or relieve homelessness.
The project is being sponsored and supported by South Liverpool Homes. The organisation’s chief executive, Julie Fadden, said: “We need to think differently about how we give social housing tenants real choice, as in our experience the current systems do not work.”