15 LAs and HAs share 1.6m letting fund

A consortia of 15 local authorities and housing associations have been given 1.6m funding to help set up sub-regional choice based lettings schemes as part of a Government drive to offer more choice and better services for home-seekers.

The funding will ensure a further 59 councils adopt a choice based lettings approach, bringing the total to 150 local authorities.

It will provide new and existing social housing tenants with the maximum possible choice; promote partnership working between social landlords and the private rented sector; and offer increased mobility in the social housing sector.

Housing Minister Baroness Andrews says the schemes will ensure social housing tenants in England had greater choice and flexibility over their housing.

She says: “Sub-regional schemes are expected to offer value for money by enabling the scheme partners to share ICT and advertising costs. As well there is also a significant benefit for larger housing associations as they cut the cost and complexity of being involved in several different schemes.

“What is clear is the quality of the large number of bids we received. The enthusiastic response from social landlords in the South-East, South-West and east of England shows that the concept of choice based lettings is now well-embedded in these parts of the country.”

“In London we are providing funding to help develop a scheme which will cover the whole of London. This would be the first regional choice based lettings scheme, whilst in the north-west we are helping fund a partnership scheme involving nine councils, covering nearly the whole of Greater Manchester.

“It is encouraging to see the readiness of local authorities and housing associations – and in many cases private landlords as well – to work together to deliver a choice-based approach to offer as wide a choice as possible.

“What is particularly positive for the future is that several schemes involve as many as six or seven, or even more, local authorities working together.”

The Government is encouraging local authorities and housing associations to continue to work together on choice-based lettings schemes, and to apply for the next round of the fund in 2006.