Manchester City Council

Making a Contribution

Can't believe it's a week since I last posted and feeling very guilty as a consequence. Has been a busy week and isn't going to get any easier. Spent some time in Liverpool at the beginning of the week at the Labour Party conference, there as always to promote Manchester and Manchester's interests.

One thing that grabbed some media attention was Manchester's social housing allocations policy. Over the past decade we have moved from vast tranches of low/no demand housing to a situation where we now have a significant waiting list so need a fair and open way of allocating places in the queue. Our new system, which has now been operating for six months continues to give the highest priority to those in greatest housing need, but working families and people who can show they are making a positive contribution to their local community are allocated to one band higher than they otherwise would be. From then on queueing is in strict date order with no queue jumping but I believe it is a valuable addition to the ways in which we can value and support people who are making a contribution to the city and incentivise others to do likewise.
Make a comment



There are 5 responses to “Making a Contribution”

  1. PuppyLove Says:

    The allocations system which requires all applicants to bid for properties on Homefinder disadvantages those people who do not have access or capability to bid online. For instance the elderly, infirm, or disabled. How is that a fairer system, when those most in need are prevented by the system from accessing the services that they need. And please do not reply that they can ask for proxy bids to be placed on their behalf, as the majority, especially of the elderly are too proud to ask for help. They need to be empowered, not patronised, and being patronised if you are old, sick or disabled is built into this new system at a fundamental level.

  2. lazyitis Says:

    Having worked in the department, I know there was a lot of hand wringing, but also a lot of work regarding vulnerable people missing out on bidding. The department was then unfortunately cut to the bone, so whether the work with Support Workers, Health Visitors, nurses etc has continued, I'm not sure. To borrow a football cliche in relation to bidding, unfortunately, if you don't shoot, then you don't score.

  3. Nowt New, Then... Says:

    @lazyitis
    Well, nowt new there then! There is always a group of people without the necessary communication skills, maybe 'too proud', just not capable of entering into this type of 'bidding' for a service. And they're not always elderly, either. I recall my own parents believing that the Council had failed them when in reality the Council wasn't really aware of their needs because they weren't mithering them enough. Twas always thus, and will be.

    I'm so in favour of engaging capable volunteer neighbours (heaven knows there are so many with time on hands could and would be willing if encouraged to offer a few free hours local service a week) who could be 'Council Badged', work in liaison with Councillors and also directly with their Neighbourhood Officers, report on what is going on in their streets, monitor, and provide updates. Particularly to keep an eye on neighbours they know are vulnerable, can help out according to personal ability, even stop by for a chat, and who can raise a flag when a service is really needed.

    In general terms, we simply cannot go on relying on salaried officers to do everything yesterday, and those people who 'get' will (as usual) be those who shout the loudest, whatever the merit of their demands. Can residents/neighbour volunteers be 'recruited' to help out? Imho they'll need strong support and the tools to report/update effectively else volunteers will, with the best intentions, soon lose interest and effectiveness. Maybe there are merits to this idea of 'the big society' if we can just drop the cynicism, look at the implementation carefully, and believe that people are mostly good and will support their neighbourhoods as volunteers if properly organised, supported and regularly motivated. Salaried neighbourhood officers should see liaison with neighbour volunteers not as extra work but as part of their work, extra feet, eyes and ears that could save them time, and the Council money.

  4. Paul Beardmore, Director of Housing, Manchester Ci Says:

    We recognise that there are certain people that may find it difficult, or even impossible to bid for properties via the internet and are currently devising an ‘Access for All’ strategy to extend the number of access channels we offer to all rehousing applicants.
    The “bidding” system replaced one where no choice was offered and homes were directly allocated by the council. Choice based lettings allow customers to bid for the available properties they are specifically interested in. Available homes are advertised every week, which allows customers to see what Council or housing association housing is available, and enable them to play a greater role in the process of selecting their home. By using choice based lettings the allocation of social housing properties is simpler and more transparent to everyone. It allows customers to make a choice about where they live. As well as giving customers the opportunity to choose which properties they want to be considered for, they can also access information concerning successful bids and the priority of the successful ‘bidder’.

  5. PuppyLove Says:

    "The “bidding” system replaced one where no choice was offered and homes were directly allocated by the council." Mr Beardmore, this statement is factually incorrect and you know it. The Choice Based Lettings system, or Homefinder, which it is still called has been in place, and run alongside the previous system of direct allocation of council properties for many, many years. The previous system of offering council housing worked, why change it just for the sake of it? How much money, when budgets are being cut, was wasted on this ridiculous and un-necessary overhaul?

    What I do agree needed to be changed was the way in which people were put on the queue for council houses, and how far up the queue they were placed. However, this new system still does not address the real inequalities that exist, and is a flawed waste of money.

    In addition, Mr Leese's comment that the queue is on a strict date order is also wrong, the people are queuing by date within the new bands, which means that if you are in a low band it makes no difference if you have been on the list 20 years or 2 weeks, you have no chance against people who have been put into a high band by the new system, which does not always take into account the greatest housing need. Being in work does not increase your housing need, so why are such people put into a higher band?

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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