18 June 2019
The Minister for Children and Housing, Senator Sam Mézec, has welcomed the publication of a wide-ranging review of access to social housing in Jersey.
The independent review, led by Professor Timothy Brown of the Housing Quality Network, has recommended changing the eligibility criteria for social housing, as well as revising the current banding system used to assess applications.
The review focused on the Affordable Housing Gateway – the single point of access for social rented housing and assisted home ownership schemes in Jersey – and its interaction with customers and social housing providers, Andium Homes and the housing trusts.
The review of access to social housing looked at issues including: the eligibility criteria and allocations policies for social housing; the priority that is given to applications once on the Housing Gateway waiting list; the process by which households are matched to available properties; and how vulnerable households are supported through the application and allocations process.
Senator Mézec said that the review was commissioned to examine the eligibility criteria for social rented housing and the effectiveness of the allocations process.
“This is an important review that sets out ways we can strengthen and improve access to social housing,” he said. “I am pleased that the review recognises that the Housing Gateway process has worked well since it was established in 2012, but with new homes being built by Andium Homes and the housing trusts, it is the right time to make changes to make sure the system is able to respond effectively to changing housing needs.”
The review makes a number of in-principle recommendations:
- changing the eligibility criteria for social housing, including changes to income thresholds and allowing groups such as single persons and couples under 50 to access social housing
- a revised banding system to ensure greater clarity when prioritising social housing
- the establishment of a housing options service to provide housing advice and guidance
- a comprehensive policy document setting out eligibility for social housing
- improvements to the way applications for households with specialist housing requirements are managed
- a legislative framework to govern the Housing Gateway and allocation process, including a statutory appeals system.
Senator Mézec said: “These are a challenging set of recommendations. In some areas, Professor Brown has identified further work that needs to be done so I intend to reflect on them and report back in due course, setting out how, working closely with key stakeholders, I plan to implement them and areas where we need to investigate in more detail. I am already exploring options to offer people more support to access suitable housing, and the review confirms the need to provide a single housing advice and guidance service.
"The report also made clear the need to deliver more homes to meet the housing needs of households registered on the Affordable Housing Gateway, and potentially open up the waiting list to more people. Our current eligibility criteria is quite narrow so we need to look at the issues that would arise if the criteria were widened without addressing supply.
"Finding a home can be very challenging for people, especially when faced with difficult situations such as homelessness, and this review will help to ensure access to social housing is fair, transparent and targeted at those in the greatest need. However, the key to improving the situation is to provide more good-quality and affordable homes. This is part of the remit of the Housing Policy Development Board, and I am working with Andium Homes and the housing trusts to deliver it.”
Review of access to social housing in Jersey