News release from 22/03/2021
Hundreds of local families helped into homes
New figures show more than 460 families in need of housing were helped by South Cambridgeshire District Council during the past year.
A report discussed at the Council’s Cabinet meeting today (Monday 22 March) highlights that 466 households in need were helped into Council or social housing between 1 April 2020 and 1 March this year. This includes 185 families who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The figures show that officers have increased the number of social housing properties that were let despite the pandemic, with a total of 442 households moving into Council or social housing in South Cambridgeshire during the previous 2019/20 financial year.
The report on the Council’s Lettings Policy highlighted how Council officers have ensured that the system of letting Council and social housing has continued to work, despite the challenges of Covid-19. Officers, who were used to working at the Council’s Cambourne office and meeting with residents face to face, have worked from home since the start of the pandemic. Initially, they used their own mobile phones to remain in touch with applicants and to ensure the service continued. However, the team quickly started to use new IT equipment and software, such as phone calls via Microsoft Teams.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Hazel Smith (pictured) said: “These figures show just how hard our housing officers have worked during the past year in the face of the enormous challenge of Covid-19. By finding homes for hundreds of local families, it shows that we have been there to support our residents, in a very real way, throughout the pandemic. We are committed to providing homes that are genuinely affordable to live in, and one way we contribute to this is through our stock of Council homes. It is vital that our homes, and social housing properties, provide somewhere to live for those most in need and the application process must be as transparent as possible. I would encourage anyone who thinks they may need housing support to contact us as early as possible. The sooner that someone lets us know they may need support, the more options are open to us.”
South Cambridgeshire District Council allocates its stock of around 5,500 Council homes via the Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Home-Link system. This is a partnership of six Councils and 34 social housing providers.
At the Cabinet meeting, Councillors confirmed some minor changes to the way Council and social housing is allocated. This followed a consultation last year, which aimed to ensure that homes are provided to those most in need and to let Council and housing association properties in a fair and transparent way.
No changes to any of the ‘bandings’ that people seeking housing are placed into have been made. This sees those in the highest need of housing given priority over those with less of a need. Most of the changes are alterations to wording to make it clearer what the policy means and to ensure it is applied consistently across Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk. The new policy does however incorporate changes to how a “local connection” is defined and sets out greater clarity as to what is meant in relation to employment requirements.
There are also changes to give ex-partners or spouses of armed forces personnel the same exemption from local connection requirements as their former partners, when they must move out of a Ministry of Defence property due to a relationship breakdown.