Good quality and affordable housing
Thriving communities outcome: good quality and affordable housing that meets the needs of our diverse communities
New Council homes
Two-hundred and thirty new Council homes are being built across the borough. The two largest sites, at Woodford Lodge in Winsford and the former Greyhound Stadium in Ellesmere Port, will deliver a mix of 175 affordable rented and shared ownership properties. Many of these homes were ready for occupation in March 2018 with the remainder to be completed by autumn 2018.
Care and support accommodation
A number of care and support accommodation units were completed in 2017-18, including 75 apartments for older people in Ellesmere Port. This brings the total of new extra care apartments delivered over the last two years to 427.
Work also started in 2017-18 on a supported housing scheme of 10 affordable rented units for people with mental health issues at McGarva Way in Ellesmere Port. This project was in partnership with a local registered provider and used funds from the Department of Health. It will be completed in May 2018.
A new housing management partner
ForHousing, part of the ForViva group, became our housing management partner on 1 July 2017. The 10-year, £130 million contract is responsible for all repairs and maintenance for Council tenants, leaseholders and the two Council-owned Gypsy and Traveller sites. This contract is expected to save £3 million over its duration. This management service was designed, procured and delivered through consultation with our tenants. (See Looking forward below for more on our work with ForHousing).
ForHousing also manages 5,500 properties in Ellesmere Port, Neston and Winsford and works closely with the Council and tenants to improve services and people’s lives. So far, it has spent more than £2.6 million of Council-funded investment on improving homes. Between 2017-18, nearly 99 per cent of these 5,500 properties meet the decent homes standard.
In January 2018, ForHousing also started referring residents to employment support programmes, such as the Ellesmere Port Work Zone and New Leaf, as well as local training opportunities, including the Construction Skills Certification scheme and forklift training. Twenty-seven residents have been referred so far.
In 2017-18, we prepared for the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act on 1 April 2018. The Act places a duty on us to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent homelessness and to provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who have priority need.
Our Housing Options team provides advice and assistance to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. In 2017-18, the team helped 2,116 households avoid homelessness. Where an alternative solution could not be found, the team assessed 372 homelessness applications and we accepted a full statutory duty to 105 homeless households and provided them with temporary accommodation in 2017-18. This is an increase of75 homelessness applications and six acceptances compared to 2016-17.
West Cheshire Homes
Our social housing register also received 5,803 new applications in 2017-18. West Cheshire Homes, includes both Council housing stock and stock from other providers, such as housing associations. A joint register means that people looking for accommodation only need to apply once to bid on eligible homes on the website. This is a decrease of 586 applications from 2016-17.
West Cheshire Homes
Working with private landlords
Our Private Landlord service works with private landlords to source accommodation for some of our most vulnerable residents, including homeless people. All new tenancies setup through the service are referred to Energy Projects Plus (EPP), an environmental charity, which provides tailored advice on saving energy, fuel bill reduction and income maximisation, as well as home safety advice. During the scheme’s first year in 2017-18, there were 28 new referrals made to Energy Projects Plus.
On 1 April 2018 we will be appointing ForFutures to deliver our homeless support service across the borough. The vision for the new service is ‘improved lives, where communities thrive’ and it will provide support for those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, including supported accommodation, floating support, mediation and an outreach service for rough sleepers.
There will be an increased focus on the prevention of homelessness, with advice and information hubs across the borough for anyone who needs immediate advice, and a larger street outreach team and more outreach drop-in sessions.
Housing delivery programme
We are currently one of the leading housing developers in the north west. The housing delivery programme will deliver 800 new homes by 2019, including the 230 new Council homes mentioned above. We also approved an accelerated delivery programme that will include a further 900 homes by 2022. Four hundred of these will be affordable, giving a total of 1,700 much needed new homes for local people.