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APPENDIX B

Housing Strategy 2016-2020

Research and Analysis Paper

National Context

 

Housing Strategy for England

In November 2011, the Government published ‘Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England’. It presents the Government’s intended direction of travel for housing; it’s role in the wider economy and its contribution to social mobility. It sets out ideas on the shape of housing provision that the Government wants to see which involve the primacy of home ownership; social housing as welfare; and an increasing role for the private rented sector.

 

The strategy introduced new approaches and initiatives including:

·         A mortgage indemnity scheme for purchase of new build property

·         Support for locally led large-scale development

·         Further efforts on public sector land release

·         Provision of development finance for stalled sites

·         Further support for custom build (self-build) housing

·         The next steps for council housing finance reform

·         Intentions on reinvigorating ‘Right to Buy’

·         Clarity on guidance on allocation of social housing

·         Support for investment in new private rented sector homes

·         Additional financial support for tackling empty homes

·         Consideration of ways to improve housing options for older people

 

Local Authorities Role in Housing Supply

The Autumn Statement 2013 announced that the Government would launch a review into the role that local authorities can play in housing supply. The aim of the review was to explore the role councils, both stock and non stock holding, could play going forward in increasing supply of housing to help meet the housing needs of their local population.

Natalie Elphicke and Keith House were appointed as the reviewers in January 2014. Their final report, published in January 2015, highlighted that councils could achieve much more by taking a more central role in providing new homes. The key recommendation is that councils change from being statutory providers to being Housing Delivery Enablers.

The Local Government Associations (LGA’s) 'Investing in our nation's future' reports that some Councils have already set up their own housing companies or exploring the potential to do so, offering flexibility on tenure and rent. 

Furthermore, APSE and TCPA have published a joint research report entitled, Housing the Nation: Ensuring councils can deliver more and better homes,’ in which  they argue that by investing in housing, councils can help to create a basis for social housing renewal, and bring jobs, skills and regeneration to local communities.

The report highlighted that after the Second World War, 300,000 new homes were delivered each year by the public and private sector, of which 90,000 were built by local councils. Since the 1970’s however, the number of houses built has declined. In 2013, just over 2,000 new council homes were built, 1,000 of these in England.

 

Planning & Housing Reforms

 

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March 2012 and sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. It is designed make the planning system less complex and more accessible, to protect the environment and to promote sustainable growth.

 

In accordance with the NPPF, local planning authorities have a duty to meet the full, objectively assessed needs for affordable housing; to plan for a mix of housing and identify the tenure and range of housing that is required; to prepare a plan which is based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence; and to assess policies to ensure their cumulative impact does not put the implementation of the Plan at serious risk.

 

The NPPF highlights the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) as a key piece of evidence in determining housing needs.

 

On 30th May 2013, Permitted Development Rights were introduced in England to authorise a change of use from an office use (Class B1(a)) to a residential use (Class C3), without having to lodge a planning application. This right will expire on 30th May 2016, when the Government will consider whether to extend the period.

 

The Government remains committed to establishing shared ownership as a route to home ownership, and making it more attractive to both households and investors. To stimulate further investment in shared ownership, the Government will extend the scope of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) multiple dwellings relief so that ’lease and leaseback’” arrangements with housing associations on shared ownership properties also attract the relief.

 

Home Ownership

The Government is committed to supporting people who aspire to become homeowners. Recognising that increased deposit requirements had left many hardworking households unable to get onto the housing ladder, the Government took decisive action by introducing the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme in 2013. The types of home ownership schemes are:

Help to Buy: equity loans

Equity loans are open to both first-time buyers and home movers on new-build homes in England with a purchase price up to £600,000. First-time buyers need to contribute at least 5% of the property price as a deposit. The Government will give a loan for up to 20% of the price, with the first-time buyer requiring a mortgage of up to 75% to cover the rest. First-time buyers won’t be charged loan fees for the first 5 years of owning their home.

 

Help to Buy: mortgage guarantees

Mortgage guarantees help people buy a home with a deposit of 5% of the purchase price. It’s open to both first-time buyers and home movers for new-build and older homes in the UK with a purchase price up to £600,000.

Shared ownership schemes

Shared ownership schemes are provided through housing associations. Purchasers buy a share of the home (25% to 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share. Shared ownership properties are always leasehold. The scheme is open to first-timer buyers or those who used to own a home, but can’t afford to buy one now, whose household earns £60,000 a year or less (or £71,000 a year or less in London for a 1 or 2 bedroom property, or £85,000 a year or less in London for a 3 or more bedroom property).

There is also help available from another home ownership scheme called ‘Older People’s Shared Ownership’ if you’re aged 55 or over. It works in the same way as the general shared ownership scheme, but applicants can only buy up to 75% of their home. Once they own 75% they won’t have to pay rent on the remaining share. Home Ownership for People with Long-Term Disabilities (HOLD) can help people buy any home that’s for sale on a shared ownership basis if they have a long-term disability.

Starter Home Initiative

The Starter Home Initiative was created and officially launched in February 2015 with the aim of "unlocking home ownership for a generation".  It aims to make 100,000 new build homes available for first time buyers under the age of forty with a discount of at least 20% of the property value

The move is the latest major push from the Government to get Britain building and help hardworking young people secure the dream of home ownership with potential discounts of around £100k per house.

With average house prices for first time buyers in England standing at around £218,000, a new Starter Home according to the Government, could save young first time buyers across the country an average of £43,000-helping to get them onto the housing ladder.

At the heart of the Starter Homes initiative is a change to the planning system. This will allow house builders to develop under-used or unviable brownfield land and free them from planning costs and levies. In return, they will be able to offer homes at a minimum 20% discount exclusively to first time buyers, under the age of forty. Currently, builders can face an average bill of £15,000 per home in Section 106 affordable housing contributions and tariffs, often adding tens of thousands to the cost of a site. Under the proposals, developers offering Starter Homes would be exempt from those Section 106 charges and Community Infrastructure Levy charges. The homes could then not be re-sold at market value for a fixed period – making sure that the savings are passed onto homebuyers.

Help to Buy ISA

The Government announced in March 2015 a further expansion of the Help to Buy scheme. This expansion recognises that, despite the high loan to value mortgage market working well due to the success of Help to Buy, many first time buyers are still struggling to save enough to put down a deposit for their first home.

The Help to Buy: ISA will be available through banks and building societies. It is designed to reward people that are working hard to save up for their first home. First time buyers that choose to save through a Help to Buy: ISA will receive a government bonus to help them make the critical first step on the housing ladder.

The bonus will represent 25% of the amount saved so, for the maximum monthly saving of £200, the government will contribute £50, with a maximum government contribution of £3,000 on £12,000 of savings. For basic rate taxpayers, this will be equivalent to saving completely free of tax for their first home. Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home so those buying together can both receive a bonus.

The Government’s aim is to provide a scheme that offers a tax-free government bonus to help people who are saving up to buy a first home worth up to £450,000 in London or £250,000 anywhere else in the UK. Accounts can be opened for a period of 4 years from the start date of the scheme.

 

National Quality Technical Standards

 

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched a review of the building regulations framework and voluntary housing standards in October 2012. The review aimed to consolidate and simplify codes, standards, rules, regulations and guidance in order to reduce unnecessary costs and complexities in the house building process.

 

On 27th March 2015, the Government launched the new approach and published a new set of streamlined national technical standards. One outcome from the review is dual level Building Regulations (Access and Water), which will give local authorities some choice to require developers to build to different standards than the minimum requirements. Furthermore, with appropriate evidence, local authorities can also use the new space standards which make up the new national technical standards. There will also be a new mandatory Building Regulation for security.

 

The optional regulations on access and water efficiency and the space standard can only be applied where there is a local plan policy based on evidenced local need and where the viability of development is not compromised. The space standard will replace existing space standards used by local authorities. It is part of the planning system, and not a building regulation.

 

It was also announced that the Code for Sustainable Homes could no longer be a requirement of planning conditions and that the Building Regulations would change so that energy requirements are set equivalent to level 4 of the code.

 

 

Affordable Housing

The delivery of affordable homes across the country continues to be of extreme importance as buying a home is increasingly out of reach for many people. House prices are rising faster than average earnings and there are 1.7 million households on waiting lists for affordable homes across England. The number of people renting has doubled and the average first-time buyer is now 35 years old. In some rural communities, where wages are low, homes have become unaffordable for people.

In order to achieve significant new supply within public spending constraints, the Government introduced the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) in 2011.

 

The centrepiece of this programme is the new ‘Affordable Rent’ tenure, which consists of lower levels of capital subsidy, and higher levels of rent – set at up to 80% of market rent. Affordable Rent will form the principal element of the new supply offer. At the same time, new flexibilities were introduced to allow a proportion of existing social rent properties to be made available tore-let at an Affordable Rent, with the additional capacity generated from those re-lets applied to support delivery of new supply.

 

A further round of planning and housing reforms was announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. The Autumn Statement included measures to extend affordable housing capital investment to 2018-19 and 2019-20, to ensure that on average 55,000 new affordable homes per year continue to be delivered.

 

 

Private Rented Sector

 

The private rented sector is England’s second largest housing tenure. The private rented sector has grown on average by 5.4% per annum since 1999 and now accounts for 19.4% (4.4 million) of households.  In 1999 the private rented sector accounted for 9.9% (2.0 million) households. In 2012-13 the number of English households renting privately overtook households living within social housing for the first time since the mid-1960s.

 

In November 2014, the property consultancy Savills forecast that the private rented sector would grow by another 1.2 million households by 2019. The Government is keen to see the establishment of a professional private rented sector which will be able to give tenants the quality and choice they are looking for.

 

In 2012, the Government commissioned the Montague Review to look at how to remove barriers to long-term institutional investment in the private rented sector. It responded to its recommendations by launching a number of initiatives aimed at kick-starting the sector and the development of purpose built long-term market rental housing schemes (Build to Rent). The £1bn Build to Rent Fund, Private Rented Sector Debt Guarantee Scheme and Private Rented Sector Taskforce have stimulated considerable interest in the sector.

 

Local authorities can play a major part in providing renters with the homes they need by supporting the establishment of private rented sector in their areas. The Government published the guide: Accelerating Housing Supply and Increasing Tenant Choice in the Private Rented Sector: A Build to Rent Guide for Local Authorities’ in March 2015 which outlines a series of practical options as to how local authorities can support the development of private rented sector homes and the benefits it can offer to local authorities. It also provides a number of case studies of build to rent schemes which are progressing with the support and innovation of their local authorities.

 

 

Welfare Reform

The Welfare Reform Act introduces restrictions on how much Housing Benefit working-age households in social rented properties can claim from April 2013, based on the size of the household. The Government estimates that the change of policy will impact on 670,000 households nationally – 32% of all working-age households in receipt of Housing Benefit. The policy change is focused on reducing the Government’s benefit bill, increasing mobility in the social rented sector and making better use of the existing social housing stock.

 

The Local Housing Allowance has undergone many changes in the past 5 years - the reduction from 50th percentile of market rents to 30th percentile of market rents; an overall cap of £400 per week; increases linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI) and single households under 35 years old restricted to the single room rate.

The spare room subsidy was introduced in April 2013.  Working age social housing tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit with one spare room had their housing benefit cut by 14% and those with two or more spare bedrooms have seen a reduction by 25%

An overall benefit cap was also introduced in July 2013, limiting total working age benefits to £26,000 per year.  This is further being reduced to £23,000.  This puts particular pressure on larger families who have much higher housing costs.

The introduction of universal credit, which is currently being rolled out across the country, will see all working age benefits, (excluding Disability Living Allowance and Carer’s Allowance) made in one single monthly payment, paid directly to the tenant.  Tenants will be responsible for paying their rent to their landlord themselves, which may cause issues with some more vulnerable tenants.

 

Summer Budget 2015

 

On 8th July 2015, the Chancellor, George Osborne, set out the first budget of the new Government – and the first for a majority Conservative Government in nearly two decades. The Chancellor promised a ‘One Nation’ budget for working people, with the focus on higher pay, lower tax and lower welfare. The Welfare Reform and Work Bill has also been introduced to parliament.

 

Some of the key measures relevant to housing include:

 

Rent setting

 

·         Reduction of rents in social housing by 1% a year for four years. This will be taken forward via the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and is expected to amount to a 12% reduction in average rents by 2020/21 compared to current forecasts.

·         Households earning over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) and living in affordable housing will have to pay market rent, subject to a government consultation.

 

Welfare and Work

 

·         The household Benefit Cap will be reduced to £20,000 (£23,000 in Greater London).

·         Automatic Housing Benefit (HB) entitlement will be removed for 18-21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

·         Most working age benefits will be frozen for four years from April 2016. Child tax credits and working tax credit will also be frozen.

·         The reforms will take place over a longer time period than previously announced with the ambition to implement all reforms by 2019/20.

·         A National Living Wage (NLW) of £7.20 will be introduced in April 2016. The Government’s ambition is for the NLW to increase to 60% of median earnings by 2020 – over £9 by 2020.

 

Planning

·         A commitment to speed up delivery of development on brownfield land through the introduction of a new zonal system.

·         Encouraging authorities to get an up-to-date plan in place, and where they fail to do so, introduce provisions allowing the Secretary of State to intervene and write local plans in consultation with local people.

 

Health, Care and Support

·         Confirmation of the NHS Five Year Forward View and real terms increase in NHS funding

·         A £3m fund to encourage innovative approaches to help people suffering from domestic abuse

 

Tenancies

·         The Government will review the use of lifetime tenancies in social housing with a view to limiting their use

Energy

·         The Government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme

·         The Government has decided against implementing the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards, but will keep energy efficiency standards under review.

 

Housing Bill

The Queens Speech 2015 announced that ‘Legislation will be introduced to support home ownership and give housing association tenants the chance to own their own home’.

 

The housing bill, which contains a number of key Conservative election pledges, will include an extension of the Right-to-Buy scheme, allowing England’s 1.3 million housing association tenants to purchase their homes with the same discounts offered to council tenants.

The main elements of the bill are:

·         The extension of the Right to Buy to housing association tenants. The Government has pledged that properties sold to tenants will be replaced, one for one.

·         Requiring councils to dispose of high-value vacant homes, which would fund the Right to Buy extension and construction of more affordable homes in the area. Remaining funds will be invested in a new Brownfield Regeneration Fund.

·         The establishment of the “necessary statutory framework” to support the delivery of discounted Starter Homes to be offered exclusively to young first-time buyers, at a 20 per cent discount below their open market value.

·         The bill would require local authorities to support custom and self-builders registered in their area in identifying suitable plots of land to build or commission their own homes.

In August 2015, Inside Housing reported that nearly 40% of all council flats sold under the Right to Buy scheme in England are now being privately rented.  Figures revealed by 91 councils under the Freedom of Information Act show 37.6% of ex-council flats are likely being rented privately at market rents.

 

Health and Homelessness

Preventing homelessness has obvious benefits for people’s housing outcomes, but a recent review, ‘Preventing Homelessness to Improve Health and Well-Being’ conducted on behalf of Public Health England by Homeless Link provides further evidence about how acting early also reduces health inequalities.

The review identifies prevention activity developed in response to health and wellbeing needs, delivered by or in partnership with the wider health workforce.

The review highlighted that for people experiencing homelessness or prolonged periods of rough sleeping, the rate at which health problems occur increases rapidly. People experiencing ‘single homelessness’ are particularly affected by poor physical and mental health:

·         73% of people report a physical health problem, and for 41% this is a long term problem compared to 28% of the general population.

·         45% have been diagnosed with a mental health issue compared to 25% of the general population.

·         Factors which contribute to unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking, and drug and alcohol use, are also more prevalent than the general population (rates of 77%, 39% and 27% respectively).

·          Research also highlights higher rates of communicable health diseases such as TB; and higher rates of premature mortality among people experiencing single homelessness.

The final report published in July 2015 recommended development in the following three key areas to help put homelessness prevention at the heart of our efforts to reduce health inequalities.

·         Stronger leadership and joint strategic working

·         Access to advice and early intervention

·         Improved data collection and evaluation

The ‘Unhealthy state of homelessness: health audit results 2014’ highlights the extent to which people who are homeless experience some of the worst health problems in society. The report uncovers the barriers many individuals face when it comes to getting treatment, as well as the impact of ill health on NHS A&E, hospital, mental health and substance misuse services.

Analysis of the latest data found that 77% of homeless people smoke, 35% do not eat at least two meals a day and two-thirds consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol each time they drink.


The data also reconfirms the strong links between health and somebody’s housing situation. The report makes a number of recommendations under the following themes of Better care; Better commissioning; Better policy and Stronger inspection and accountability to improve the commissioning and delivery of services that prevent and treat the poor health experienced by homeless people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Context

 

Local Demographics

The Borough of Maidstone covers some 40,000 hectares, and is home to some 61,460 households. Located in the heart of Kent, Maidstone Town is the County Town, and is an administrative, retail and leisure hub, with a large night time economy.  The Borough enjoys good transport links to the coast and to London, and has a high rate of employment.  It has a very mixed business sector with a large number of small to medium sized employers, with particular strengths in law, accountancy and the media. 

The Borough was ranked 227th of the 326 local authorities in England in the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (with 1 being the most deprived local authority, 354 the least deprived).  Although over 55% of households live in the town centre and urban fringe of Maidstone, there are significant large village ‘rural service centres’, including Staplehurst, Headcorn and Marden.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is updating the indices of deprivation, including the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). The work is being carried out by Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI). The ‘Indices of deprivation 2015’, which had been provisionally timetabled for publication in July, will be published in September. This change is for operational reasons, to allow additional time for production and quality assurance of the indices.


Population and household change

The table below shows projected population growth from 2011 to 2031 in Maidstone

Compared to the South East and England. The data shows that the population of Maidstone is expected to grow more strongly than seen across the region and nationally.



 

Population 2011

Population 2031

Change in population

% Change

Maidstone

155,764

189,575

33,811

21.7

South East

8,652,800

9,979,900

1,327,100

15.3

England

53,107,200

60,418,800

7,311,600

13.8

Source: Office National Statistics (ONS)

 

With the overall change in the population will come changes to the age profile. The table below shows the growth in population overall by age bands in Maidstone and highlights the ageing of the population with a greater proportion of the population expected to be in age groups aged 60 and over (and even more so for older age groups) - in particular the oldest age group (85+) shows an increase of 142%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

Age Group

Population 2011

Population 2013

Change

% Change from 2011

Under 5

9, 664

10,497

833

8.6

5-9

8,796

10,887

2091

23.8

10-14

9,403

11,072

1,669

17.8%

15-19

9,405

10,582

1,177

12.5%

20-24

8,537

9,411

874

10.2

25-29

9,710

10,162

452

4.6%

30-34

9,687

10,920

1,233

12.7

35-39

10,134

12,222

2,088

20.6

40-44

11,851

12,341

490

4.1%

45-49

11,986

11,891

-95

-0.8

50-54

10,388

11,258

870

8.4%

55-59

9,210

11,090

1,880

20.4

60-64

10,145

12,049

1,904

18.8

65-69

8,224

11,560

3,336

40.6%

70-74

6,269

9,532

3,263

52.1

75-79

5,058

7,870

2,812

55.6%

80-84

3,774

7,702

3,928

40.1

85+

3,523

8,530

5,007

142.1%

Total

155,764

189,575

33,811

21.7

Source: Office National Statistics (ONS)

In the 2011 Census, it was estimated that there were 63,682 households living in the Maidstone Borough.  The table below shows that an estimated 13.7% of households live in affordable housing with 86.3% being in the market sector.  The figures also suggest that homes in the market sector are generally bigger than in the affordable sector with 68% having three or more bedrooms compared to 33% for affordable housing.

Estimated Profile of Dwellings by Size (2011)

Size of housing

            Market

          Affordable

               Total

 

Number

%

Number

       %

Number

%

 

1 bedroom

3,516

6.4%

31.3%

31.3%

6.254

9.8%

 

2 bedrooms

14,003

25.5%

35.5%

35.5%

17,107

26.9%

 

3 bedrooms

23,765

43.3%

29.9%

29.9%

26,373

41.4%

 

4+ bedrooms

 

13,661

24.9%

3.3%

3.3%

13,948

21.9%

Total

54,945

100%

100%

100%

63,682

100%

 

% in tenure

86.3%

13.7%

100%

 

Source: Derived from 2011 Census

 

 

 

Understanding the local housing market

 

Affordable Housing Need

The delivery of affordable Housing supports the council’s corporate priorities for Maidstone to keep the Borough an attractive place for all and to secure a successful economy.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), published in January 2014, highlighted the on-going need for future provision of affordable housing in the Borough.

 

 

 

Per Annum

18-years

Net current housing need

32

580

Newly forming households

568

10,224

Existing households falling into need

235

4,230

Total gross need

837

15,034

Supply of affordable housing from existing stock

513

9,234

Net need

322

5,800

Source: SHMA 2014, Table 49: Estimated level of Housing Need (2013-2031)

 

The council has a net affordable housing need of 5,800 households from 2013 to 2031 equivalent to 322 affordable homes each year (which is 35% of the council’s objectively assessed need of 928 dwellings p.a.).

The Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2014) identifies the need for different types of tenure of affordable housing through the period of the local plan.  Across the Borough as a whole, it is estimated that some 67% of need is for social or affordable rent tenures, whilst around 33% is for intermediate housing.  A ratio of 70% affordable rent and 30% intermediate was tested in the study and has been shown to be viable.

The SHMA, based on its findings, has given the following indicative unit size requirements for different dwelling sizes:

 

 

 

1 bed

2 bed

3 bed

4+ bed

Affordable

30-35%

30-35%

25-30%

5-10%

Market

5-10%

30-35%

40-45%

15-20%

 

Entry Level Access to the Markets

When assessing housing need, an important consideration is to establish the entry-level costs of housing to buy and rent.

 

 

The figure below shows the estimated lower quartile property prices for purchases in 2013:

Source:  Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment (January 2014)

 

The entry-level cost for private rented accommodation is presented in the figure below. This indicates that entry-level rents range from about £520-£575 per month for a one bedroom home up to around £1,250 per month for a four bedroom property depending on location.

 

 

Source:  Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment (January 2014)

As well as assessing the price of purchasing a property and renting, it is important to look at local income levels.  This determines levels of affordability and also provides an indication of the potential for affordable housing to meet needs.

 

 

The figure below shows the distribution of household incomes across the whole Borough:

Source:  Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment (January 2014)

This shows that over a quarter of households have an income below £20,000 with a further third in the range of £20,000 to £40,000.  The overall average income of all households in the Borough was estimated to be around £31,600 with a mean income of £42,000.

To assess affordability we need to look at a household’s ability to afford either home ownership or private rented housing, without financial support.  The table below shows across the Borough that it is estimated that around 43% of households are unable to access market housing on the basis of income levels.

Source:  Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment (January 2014)

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are used to calculate housing benefit for tenants renting from private landlords.  The maximum rates are calculated by the Rent officer using the 30th percentile on a list of rents within the area.  The current LHA rates for dwellings within Maidstone Borough are as follows:

Maidstone:                  Shared accommodation rate:             £68.28 per week                                                         One bedroom rate:                         £123.58 per week                                                       Two bedroom rate:                             £157.56 per week                                                       Three bedroom rate:                           £180.45 per week                                                            Four bedroom rate:                             £235.41 per week

 

Medway &Swale:        Shared accommodation rate:             £65.66 per week                                                         One bedroom rate:                         £110.67 per week                                                       Two bedroom rate:                             £138.08 per week                                                       Three bedroom rate:                           £153.02 per week                                                            Four bedroom rate:                             £198.11 per week

 

Housing Register Need

The table below shows number of applicants and those housed on the Housing Register during 2010 to 2015.

Housing Need & Lets

 

On Housing Register

Housed

2010 to 2011

3442

572

2011 to 2012

3674

607

2012 to 2013

3187

703

2013 to 2014

1339

618

2014 to 2015

1461

624

Source: Locata / Housing Register

There has been an increase in numbers of people on the housing register between 2010 and 2012. This started to decrease in 2012/2013 and then dropped drastically in 2013/2014.

The reason for the large drop was the new housing allocations policy, introduced in April 2013. This new policy made it harder for applicants to be on the housing register, with applicants having to prove a housing need and a local connection. This meant many people no longer qualified for social housing.

The new Allocations Scheme replaced the previous points system with the introduction of a banding system.


Housing Register by Banding and Bedroom requirement (as at end of August 2015)

 

Band A

%

Band B

%

Band C

%

Band D

%

Total

%

1-Bed

162

35

98

70

501

65

40

54

801

55

2-Bed

178

39

34

24

152

20

28

38

392

27

3-Bed

88

19

7

5

70

9

5

7

170

12

4-Bed

27

6

1

1

15

2

0

0

46

3

5+Bed

7

1

0

0

32

4

1

1

40

3

Total

462

100

140

100

770

100

74

100

1446

100

 

Shared Ownership Need

Demand for shared ownership within Maidstone remains relatively strong. The table below shows the number of applicants registered with the Help to Buy Agent who wish to live in Maidstone, broken down by bedroom entitlement and existing household status. There are 649 applicants in total. The majority of need is for smaller one and two bed accommodation of which accounts for over 80% of the total need. The size of accommodation required is closely aligned with that of rented accommodation. The average household income of those registered is £30,725.

Existing Household Status

Beds

Council Tenant

Private Tenant

Housing Association Tenant

With Family or Friends

Owner Occupier

Other

Total Applicants

%

1/2

3

225

24

249

9

3

526

81

2/3

2

49

10

16

4

4

85

13

3/4

1

20

1

4

0

3

29

4

4+

0

6

1

1

0

1

7

1

Total

6

300

36

270

13

11

649

100

Source: Help to Buy Agent (Nominations Data)

Private Rented Sector

The private rented sector plays an important role in meeting affordable housing needs but also supports flexibility across the housing market.  The sector has seen considerable growth in the past decade and forecasts predict this to increase even further.

However, the private rented sector generally provides less security to tenants than a social rented property and commonly offers a lower standard of accommodation.

 

Housing Stock and Supply

A detailed profile of tenure mix for Maidstone can be gleaned from the 2011 Census. Around 70% of households live in owner occupied accommodation, with around 13% social rented and 15% private rented. Like much of the country, the shared ownership sector is limited at only 1% of stock.

 

 

The Statistical Data Return (SDR) is an annual online survey completed by all English private registered providers of social housing. The SDR collects data on stock size, types, location and rents at 31st March each year, and data on sales and acquisitions made between 1st April and 31st March.

 

The table below shows the total social housing stock recorded for the Maidstone Borough, broken down by tenure and client group as at 31st March 2014.

 

Tenure

Units

% of stock social housing stock

Rent

 

 

General Needs Self Contained

7,125

79%

Supported Housing

207

2%

Housing for Older People

1,137

12%

Low Cost Home Ownership

607

7%

Total

9,076

100%

Source: Statistical Data Release 2013-14

 

There are 9,076 existing social homes within the Borough of Maidstone, of which 8,469 (93%) are rented accommodation, with the remaining 7% low cost home ownership accommodation.

Maidstone has an excellent track record for delivery of affordable housing and has outperformed all other authorities in Kent, with the exception of Medway, which is a unitary authority. This is supported by the table below which shows the number of affordable homes delivered by each Kent local authority from 2010 to 2014.

Numbers of affordable housing delivered by each Kent local authority between 2010 and 2011 and 2013 to 2014.

Medway

1060

Maidstone

1050

Ashford

790

Tonbridge & Malling

630

Gravesham

560

Dartford

540

Canterbury

460

Swale

430

Thanet

370

Tunbridge Wells

340

Dover

200

Sevenoaks

170

Shepway

150

Totals

6750


Both the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Registered Providers see Maidstone as an important area for affordable housing delivery and investment.  The table below shows the amount of funding the HCA has allocated towards the delivery of affordable homes within each of the authorities in Kent for the period April 2011 to September 2014.

Affordable Homes Programme (2011-15) - Schemes confirmed by the HCA

Local Authority

Funding (£)

Affordable Homes

Grant Per Affordable Home (£)

Ashford

5,167,174

386

13,386

Canterbury

1,447,635

126

11,489

Dartford

204,000

118

1,729

Dover

3,799,013

191

19,890

Gravesham

9,406,892

250

37,628

Maidstone

6,884,709

548

12,563

Medway Towns

9,115,126

399

22,845

Sevenoaks

1,023,222

83

12,328

Shepway

3,764,962

143

26,328

Swale

4,635,756

333

13,921

Thanet

3,217,900

106

30,358

Tonbridge & Malling

3,038,172

272

11,170

Tunbridge Wells

5,247,151

396

13,250

Source: Homes and Communities Agency

The 2015 to 2018 Affordable Home Programme aims to increase the supply of new affordable homes across the Country.  Over half the available funding was allocated in the initial bidding round, with the remainder being made available on a continuous market engagement basis.  Bidding for this is now open and will remain so until all of the funding is allocated.

There are currently 51 developments that have obtained planning permission within the Borough that will provide affordable housing that are currently being built or where development has yet to start. These will provide an additional 1314 new affordable dwellings.  The breakdown of these is as follows:

 

1 bed

2 bed

3 bed

4 bed

Flats

234

317

0

0

Houses

0

266

258

69

Bungalows

0

6

0

0

Note: 164 units – type / size to be agreed

 

 

Affordable / Social Rent

893 units (73%)

Shared Ownership / New build Homebuy

330 units (27%)

Note: 91 units – tenure to be agreed

 

Emerging Local Plan Policy

Maidstone Borough’s Local Plan, which is due to run until 2031, is currently being drafted after an initial public consultation period in 2014.  There are four emerging policies within the plan that directly affect Housing:

·         DM23 – Housing mix

·         DM24 – Affordable housing

·         DM25 – Local needs housing

·         DM26 – Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation

An affordable housing supplementary planning document is to be produced once the Local Plan has been adopted.  This document will go into greater detail about the Council’s affordable housing policy and requirements from developers.

A further round of public consultation is to be undertaken before the final local plan is adopted, which is scheduled for 2017.

 

 

Health and Well-Being

 

The right home environment is critical to our health and wellbeing; good housing helps people stay healthy, and provides a base from which to sustain a job, contribute to the community, and achieve a decent quality of life. Safe and suitable housing also aids recovery from periods of ill-health, and enables people to better manage their health and care needs.

 

Without good housing, we know health and wellbeing are affected: poor conditions and precarious housing impact on people’s physical and mental health. Ill health also puts some households at a greater risk of housing need and can be a trigger of homelessness – for example, poor physical and mental health can make it harder to access and keep their home.

 

Maidstone Borough Council recognises the importance of reducing health inequalities

and improving health and wellbeing, a theme that runs through the 3 strategic

priorities and 7 key outcomes set out in the Strategic Plan 2011-15.

 

Levels of health and wellbeing in Maidstone are generally good, being largely above

national and regional averages. This position, however, hides some pockets of

deprivation and ill health. The difference in life expectancy at birth of our most

affluent wards compared to our most deprived is 8.9 years (figure 1), putting us

mid-table when compared to other districts in Kent.

 

 

 



Deprivation in the Borough is lower than average, however 15% (4,300) of children (under 16 years old) in Maidstone live in poverty. There is a larger difference in life expectancy of men and women; 7 years lower for men and 4 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Maidstone than in the least deprived.

The neighbourhoods that make up the areas of higher deprivation lie particularly in

the electoral Wards of:

 

·         Park Wood

·         High Street

·         Shepway North

·         Shepway South

 

Maidstone Borough Council aims to reduce health inequalities by reducing the gap in

health status within and between our communities, by improving health most quickly

for areas with high levels of deprivation. The Health Inequality Action Plan sets out how all partners will work together to achieve this aim, so that people will live longer in better health,

and the variances in life expectancy in Maidstone will reduce.

Research has also shown that the stability of an affordable home can have profound effects on childhood development and school performance and can improve health outcomes for families and individuals.

Housing costs and affordability have been shown to be associated with increased levels of anxiety and depression.

Appendix D – The relationship between poor housing and health – highlights the many links that exist between the condition of a households dwelling and their health.

Fuel Poverty

A household lives in fuel poverty when they cannot afford to heat their home to a comfortable level.  Living in a cold home has a negative impact on the health of occupants of all ages. It may also reduce educational attainment in children and increase the number of absences from school and work. Approximately 8% of households in the borough suffer from fuel poverty, similar to the average for Kent. However fuel poverty is not evenly distributed through the Borough with some areas having just 2.2% of households in fuel poverty and others with 15.2% of households living in fuel poverty. Nationally fuel poverty is more prevalent in the private rented sector, followed by owner occupiers and lowest in the socially rented sector.  The drivers of fuel poverty are;

1.    The energy efficiency of the home;

2.    The cost of the heating fuel; and

3.    The household income

 

The council aims to reduce fuel poverty in the Borough by initiatives including the Big Maidstone Switch and the Warm Homes scheme.

 

Excess Winter Deaths

Excess winter deaths are defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter months (December - March) and the average number of deaths during the previous four months (August – November) and the following four months (April - July).

It is estimated that half of the excess winter deaths are from cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and a third from respiratory disease.  Environmental exposure to excess cold can have a number of health impacts including an increase in blood pressure and clotting which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Older people have the greatest risk of their health being affected by cold temperatures.  The majority of excess winter deaths are in people over 75 years of age.

 

Think Housing First

The Kent Joint Policy and Planning Board (Housing) published ‘Think Housing First’ in 2013.  It sets out the role of the housing sector; the relationship between health inequalities and housing; and what can be done in Kent in addition to current housing interventions.

 

The vision is to raise the profile of ‘thinking about housing first’ in addressing health inequalities in Kent. In doing so the aims are:

 

·         To take advantage of the new opportunities, driven by the recent health reforms, for housing to strengthen collaboration and engagement with health

·         To maximise the contribution of housing in improving people’s health and wellbeing

·         To raise awareness to health colleagues of the role of the housing sector

·         To reliably inform commissioning priorities and decisions, by demonstrating how investing in housing can save in health bills.

 

 

Homelessness and Vulnerable People

 

 

Homelessness

 

Between 2005 and 2010 the Council significantly reduced its use of emergency accommodation.  For many years the Housing Service had less than 10 households at anytimeany time in emergency accommodation.  The use of temporary accommodation generally had virtually ceased, as the Housing Service was able to house households into settled accommodation.

 

Unfortunately, since 2010 the recession and ongoing economic climate have resulted in a surge of homelessness nationally. Due to the high demand for social housing, this has led on occasion to some homeless households having a significant wait in temporary accommodation until they receive an offer of social housing.

 

The Government requires all local housing authorities to complete a return (known as the P1E) every quarter on homelessness activity. This includes the number of people approaching the council as homeless. The overall numbers of those approaching the council as homeless between the 2010/2011 financial year and the 2014/2015 financial year can be seen below.

 

                
Source: P1E

 

 

The number of homelessness decisions made by the council has increased significantly since April 2011.  Most of the data from the P1E return to central government only gathers detailed data on those who are eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need (the full housing duty, as this means the local housing authority must secure accommodation for the applicant and their family).

 

 

 

Therefore to understand the context of the data from the last five years it is important to understand the trend in not only those presenting themselves as homeless, but also those that Maidstone Borough Council owes a duty to house under legislation.



Financial Year

Eligible, unintentionally homeless and in priority need

 

Eligible, homeless and in priority need but intentionally so

Eligible, homeless but not in priority need

Eligible but not homeless

Ineligible

Total number of decisions

2010-11

 

33.8%

6.3%

8.8%

50.0%

1.3%

80

2011-12

 

69.2%

9.2%

10.3%

10.6%

0.7%

273

2012-13

 

67.6%

7.5%

14.3%

8.5%

2.0%

293

2013-14

 

39.9%

9.7%

12.0%

26%

3.0%

388

2014-15

 

35.2%

12.4%

29.4%

19.8%

2.9%

604

 

 

Since 2010/2011 the number of people who were found to be eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need increased up to 2012/13, reaching a high of 69.2% in 2011/12. The proportions have decreased since, however as previously noted the number of people approaching the council as homeless continues to increase, so it may well mean that the numbers of people who the council has a duty to house continues to remain high.

 

Maidstone is above the national level of homelessness in relation to population; whilst the Kent average is 0.49 per 1000, compared to an England average of 0.59, Maidstone stands at 0.98, the second highest in Kent.

 

The number of people in temporary accommodation continues to rise. This is due mainly to the number of duty accepted households who we have been unable to identify ‘move on’ accommodation for.

 

 

Number of people in temporary accommodation on last night of each Quarter

 

Year

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

Quarter 4

10/11

33

32

35

36

11/12

34

44

46

49

12/13

38

27

37

36

13/14

39

47

31

42

14/15

49

40

43

52

15/16

63

 

 

 

 

 

The use of temporary accommodation has resulted in a large increase in cost to the Council.  The past five years have seen a near fivefold increase in the net cost of temporary accommodation from £118,620 to £584,055.

 

        

 

 

Vulnerable People

Kent County Council (KCC) published its ‘Adult Accommodation Strategy’ (Health and Housing Partnership) in July 2014, the purpose of which was to develop evidence to help shape the approach to the provision of housing and care homes within Kent.


The report estimates the need for, and availability of, accommodation for people with physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, learning difficulties, autism and people who use mental health services within Kent. The Adult Accommodation Strategy also demonstrates the need for accommodation for older people (aged 55/65 and over) in the County and the supply available.

The evidence in KCC’s Adult Accommodation Strategy clearly demonstrates that:

 

·         Whilst supply of specialist accommodation can target persons aged over 55/65, the majority of need arises from persons in older age groups: those 75-84 and particularly over 85;

·         The needs of these groups include support needs which range from support in adapting properties to meet changing needs, provision of care in the home through  tothrough to specialist accommodation and care/nursing home provision.

 

The SHMA report estimates the need for specialist housing, overall and by tenure.

 

Maidstone

Current Need

Additional Need  to 2030

Total Need

Sheltered

348

1508

1856

Extra Care

223

260

483

Residential

137

1144

1281

Total

708

2912

3620

 

 

Viability testing for retirement homes (also known as ‘sheltered housing’) and extra care homes (also known as ‘assisted living’) suggests these uses are not as viable as other residential uses? in Maidstone. There was very little difference between extra care and retirement properties, and the study recommends a single affordable rate for both.  Whilst a rate of 30% affordable housing is viable, this could only be achieved with a zero Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).  Alternatively, a lower 20% affordable housing rate can be accommodated which would allow for an appropriate balance between affordable housing need and infrastructure provision.

 

Maidstone are members of the Mental Health Forum and through this have recognised the need to seek alternative, self-contained accommodation for existing mental health clients who are living in shared accommodation which is no longer fit for purpose. Two new replacement mental health schemes have been developed during the course of the existing housing strategy, providing a total of 19 one bed flats.  There are two remaining mental health schemes (12 units) which need to be replaced with new self-contained accommodation, and the Council are working with the support provider and KCC’s accommodation solutions team to secure funding and identify suitable site opportunities.

 

KCC’s Supporting People programme has ended, although the services are very much still being provided and commissioned and KCC remains committed to providing housing-related support.  A needs analysis was conducted in 2013 and the plan that arose from this suggests commissioning in a more holistic way, thinking about the pathways that service users need and simplifying the complex arrangements that service users have to navigate.