Council-owned shared service organisation, Publica, is taking a collaborative approach to tackling housing waiting lists.
Working across three of its member council areas, a dedicated housing team is to work with property specialists to overcome barriers preventing people finding a home across the Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire districts.
The team will launch a special incentive scheme at a series of events targeted at private landlords and housing agents next week.
The forums will be held in each district and will also provide a platform for open discussion with landlords and agents about how more private rented accommodation can be made available for people on the waiting list and in receipt of benefits.
Housing Property Manager Chauncy Seed, who is organising the events, said: “There is very little social housing available across the districts and potential tenants face long waiting lists.
“One way we could reduce the wait is to help people get into the private sector but we know there are obstacles to this. We want to tackle these by incentivising private landlords and helping would-be tenants.”
Using cash awarded by the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government’s Private Rented Sector Access Fund, the scheme will provide deposits and rent advances – a common barrier for people on the housing waiting list.
The funding will also help to bridge the gap between the local housing allowance and market rates. Private landlords are often unwilling to consider tenants on benefits as market rents are often higher. Publica’s housing team is funding incentives for landlords to assist with any shortfall.
The scheme will also allow private sector properties to be advertised on the councils’ Homeseeker Plus system used by those searching and bidding for social housing. Landlords will benefit from free advertising on the system later in the year.
Chauncy added: “The successful funding bid was fantastic news as it has allowed us to take a proactive, problem-solving approach. We are dedicated to preventing residents across our councils from becoming homeless and this scheme will make a real difference.”
The forums will take place at Forest of Dean District Council offices from 5-7pm on Monday 13 May; at Cotswold District Council offices from 5-7pm on Tuesday 14 May and at West Oxfordshire District Council offices on Thursday 16 May from 5-7pm. There are still spaces for interested parties and anyone wishing to attend should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to News Editors
Publica is a council-owned company which delivers shared services to Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dean District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.
There are 1,805 people on Cotswold District Council’s housing waiting list, 2,424 on the Forest of Dean’s and 2,667 on West Oxfordshire’s,
A partnership of seven local authorities (Tewkesbury, Stroud, Gloucester City, Cheltenham, Forest of Dean, Cotswold and West Oxfordshire), led by Tewkesbury Borough Council, bid for and was awarded £75,108 for 2018/2019 and £284,300 for 2019/20. More information about the Private Rented Sector Access Fund awards can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/housing-minister-unlocks-private-rented-sector-for-most-vulnerable
Publica’s share of the funding will be used to fund a Co-ordinator and Tenancy Liaison Officer for a 12-month project as well as a budget of approximately £1,250 per property for landlord incentives.