Agenda item

Housing Stock & Waiting Times in the District Update


The Head of Housing presented the report, which updated the committee on the waiting times for applicants on the Council Housing register, and the number of social and affordable rented units in the district.


In response to questions, the officer explained that Band D of the register (single local essential workers) was used to allocate properties of intermediate rent in developments that required local essential workers, who did not have a traditional housing need. The upcoming Allocations Policy review would examine the possibility of removing of changing the single requirement to couples in the band. The total number of people on the housing register in October 2023 was 821. The register consisted of people waiting to be allocated social housing provided by Registered Providers, such as West Kent Housing, in the district. Officers would investigate bringing a like-for-like comparison between years for the register but advised members that unique issues and changes from one year to the next made comparisons difficult. For example, the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis had impacted the service significantly. Average wait times were provided, rather than maximums and minimums, as this provided a better overview between bands. Some customers elected not to bid for properties that were available and met their housing need as they desired to live elsewhere, which affected the longest wait times.


Members asked further questions of the officer regarding the provision of affordable housing in the district. The Housing team advised that they did not deliver affordable housing, but contribute to the formation of planning policy – such as through the Affordable Housing SPD. The Housing team worked with existing and new Registered Providers to enable the delivery of social and affordable housing in the district. Assessing the viability of affordable housing in developments was outside of the team’s remit. However, it was noted that there were significant challenges to the viability of social and affordable housing for developers, including Registered Providers and the Council, due to the scale of sites and increases in construction, labour and material costs over the past few years.  


Members were advised that homeless customers could be housed outside of the district in suitable and affordable private accommodation. Some affordable housing was provided through Quercus Housing, by purchasing housing directly from the market or developers. The Council had secured £2.8 million in capital funding from the Local Authority Housing Fund to use in acquiring affordable housing to meet refugee need (such as in the Homes for Ukraine and Afghan resettlement schemes). So far, 6 units had been delivered in Swanley to support essential workers housed under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Other developments were being investigated for further opportunities.


Temporary accommodation for homelessness was included within the homelessness budget. In the previous financial year, roughly £1.3 million was spent on emergency accommodation, of which the maximum of 30% was reclaimed through Housing Benefit. There were no customers in any hotel accommodation at the time of the meeting. The housing allowance was based on figures from 2011, which further increased the budget pressure arising from the service. Members discussed the impact that the lack of affordable housing and notably, social housing being delivered by Registered Providers, had on the homelessness budget.


Resolved: That the report be noted.



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