Housing strategy

Our priorities

Priority 1 - housing, health, wellbeing and partnerships

Objective 1 - to integrate the housing, health and wellbeing agendas

There is recognition that a range of complex and inter-linked challenges that impact on the quality of life of people cannot be effectively tackled by any one partner alone and more can be achieved by working together.

We work in partnership with other organisations such as:

  • social care, health (including mental health and drug and alcohol services)
  • advice agencies
  • money advice
  • voluntary and community sector groups
  • the police and other emergency services
  • domestic abuse services

In Staffordshire, the health and social care sectors are undergoing transformation to ensure people are provided with better integrated care and support. The need for good quality housing forms a central part of this transformation.

In 2018, Staffordshire County Council approved a five-year whole-life disability strategy, which sets out the principles and actions that will underpin the way it works with families, communities, local authorities, health and care providers and partners to meet the requirements of people with physical or learning disabilities, autism, and sensory impairments, recognising the need for people to be 'independent and equal in society and have choice and control in their own lives'.

We will:

  • seek to influence local commissioning and provider’s plans to ensure they work together for a common purpose
  • continue to lead the work of the Newcastle partnership to identify opportunities for joint working and responding to local needs
  • facilitate the availability and encourage the further development of supported accommodation for our residents who have a range of needs, including physical and/or mental health needs, challenging behaviours and homelessness
  • work in partnership to deliver an efficient and responsive grants service for adaptations
  • seek external funding opportunities for the ongoing development of additional supported accommodation with local providers, particularly for those customers with complex needs
  • encourage local specialist providers to provide supported accommodation that meets the needs of our residents, using intelligence we have from the housing advice and housing register functions
  • contribute to the delivery of the actions in the health and wellbeing strategy

Objective 2 – to improve housing standards and energy efficiency in the housing stock

Housing standards

We respond to approximately 600 service requests each year from residents and partners seeking help with housing related matters across the privately rented and owner-occupied sectors.

We run a well-regarded Landlord accreditation scheme is a partnership between ourselves and Stoke-on-Trent City Council and provides a means for dialogue between the council and engaged and conscientious landlords for some of the most vulnerable residents. It aims to improve the physical and management standards in the private rented sector by providing encouragement, support and incentives to members. There are over 450 members of the scheme, around 200 of these own and let over 700 properties within the borough.

We have licenced 193 houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the borough providing housing for up to 1197 residents forming 1127 households. A large proportion of these are students' households, however, HMOs also provide essential affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable residents.

We work in close partnership with local lettings agencies, Staffordshire Fire Authority and Keele University to improve standards.

We will:

  • target the worst performing landlords with the poorest quality housing
  • support responsible landlords and work with them to become professional and grow their business
  • continue to commit to the landlord accreditation scheme: north Staffordshire
  • use our stock modelling and other available intelligence to target properties for a proactive programme of inspections and use our statutory powers to ensure they comply with legal duties
Empty homes

There are many complex reasons why a home may be left empty, we seek to take actions on a case on case basis including measures to encourage and persuade owners to bring their properties up to a good standard and let them to tenants.

We will:

  • use the full range of tools and powers available to us to return empty homes to use
Energy efficiency

We promote the energy company obligation (ECO), a programme to deliver energy efficiency measures to cut fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions. To date 4025 ECO measures have been installed within the borough, of these 1777 have been directed to those deemed to be vulnerable and in fuel poverty.

We work with Beat the Cold, a local charity (funding by the National lottery, North Staffs Clinical Commissioning Group, and Western Power). We are part of Staffordshire Warmer Homes, run by Staffordshire County Council, in partnership with local councils. The scheme has developed a number of major projects for the installation of energy efficiency measures and low carbon technologies in Staffordshire. We are working with Staffordshire Warmer Homes to bid for and deliver local authority delivery (LAD) funded schemes.

We have declared a climate emergency and made a commitment to carbon neutrality, in line with the Government’s target by 2050, and reducing the emissions from homes within the Borough will be integral in achieving this target.

We will:

  • continue to work with Beat the Cold to support households out of fuel poverty
  • continue to work with the Staffordshire Warmer Homes scheme to bid for funding and deliver energy efficient projects focusing on external wall insulation, loft insulation, air source heat pumps and Solar PV

Priority 2 - housing and economic recovery

Objective 1 - to develop a housing market that is vibrant and economically prosperous, which will meet the needs of our residents

Our five-year housing land supply statement (2020-2025)) forecasts a requirement for 2364 houses up to 2025 (473 per annum).

We are developing a new local plan that will set a housing requirement taking into consideration an up-to-date objective assessment of housing need for the Borough’s, and constraints to development. The local development scheme has been published on our website which presents a timetable for the new local plan. A submission to the Secretary of State has been planned for winter 2023.

We provide a professional development management approach including pre-application advice and support. It works to attracts funding for, and facilitates the delivery of, essential infrastructure to enable new development to take place and co-ordinates with Homes England to fund affordable housing with commuted sums via the planning process. We promote high development standards/quality in new builds through the planning process.

We will:

  • ensure that housing needs are properly assessed and quantified by updating the local evidence base, including the Housing Needs Assessment and the gypsy and traveller accommodation assessment (GTAA)
  • develop and enhance policies to further improve housing standards in the borough, including design, accessibility, security and environmental performance, taking account of developing national guidelines and published evidence
  • adopt a new a local plan which has a strong planning framework which embodies the principles of sustainability affordability and integration

Objective 2 - to facilitate the development of a range of affordable housing, that meets identified housing

There are households within the borough whose housing need cannot be met by the market, i.e. they are unable to afford to either buy or rent from the private market.

We work with Homes England to support bids for grant funding by providers to deliver new affordable homes. This has been both through the main bidding round of their shared ownership and affordable housing programme (SOAHP), and subsequent 'continuing market engagement' (CME) or 'thematic' bidding rounds.

We seek early engagement with housing associations to support their development programmes and help ensure that their proposals will most effectively meet local needs. We implement our current affordable housing planning policy, whereby major developments are expected to provide 25% affordable housing on site, and this being apportioned as 15% social rented and 10% shared ownership.

We will:

  • adopt a local plan with an affordable housing policy to meet the identified need
  • continue to work collaboratively with partner organisations, registered providers and Homes England to maximise new affordable housing supply and deliver a real, long term increase in the size of the social housing sector

Objective 3 - to take on the direct role of developing housing, specifically on our own land

We have an assets management strategy. This has identified landholdings in our ownership, which have been approved for disposal. Certain sites will be disposed of by way of a sale and we will take a land receipts, other sites, we will have greater involvement in.

We will:

  • continue to implement the asset management strategy
  • seek to work jointly with registered providers to deliver housing on our land via a commercial arrangement

Objective 4 - to contribute to the economic regeneration of the high street by incorporating mixed use developments within the town centres.

We have Town Deal proposals for both Newcastle-under-Lyme and Kidsgrove. The Newcastle-under-Lyme town investment plan states that:

"the area contains a significant amount of housing stock which is no longer fit-for-purpose, including at key town centre sites, while several areas are subject to significant market failure as signified through their inclusion in the Housing Market Renewal Initiative. Moreover, the ageing population in Newcastle-under-Lyme - with the number of residents aged 65+ expected to increase by 14.7% over the next decade - suggests future demand for older person’s accommodation will increase over time. As such, there is scope for the regeneration and redevelopment of assets and residential areas to improve the breadth and quality of the residential offer and overall quality of life within Newcastle-under-Lyme.”

We will:

  • use the Town Deal and future High Street funding to work alongside private investment to unlock key sites both at the gateways to the town centre and in the town centre core
  • encourage the development of residential units in sustainable locations within the town centres, which will provide doorstep access to retail, leisure and services, supporting the healthy economy of the town and adding to its footfall

Priority 3 - homelessness and rough sleeping

Objective 1 - to provide early intervention and partnership working to prevent homelessness

We recognise that we need to be much more ambitious about providing early help and intervention to prevent people becoming homeless, but also provide better support after the immediate crisis of homelessness has been resolved, to ensure that people can sustain their housing and avoid repeat homelessness.

We will:

  • ensure that a range of homelessness prevention tools are developed and refined for use by the Newcastle Housing Advice (NHA) service
  • establish appropriate data sharing protocols, in order to allow for greater communication about cases to assist individuals and the wider community
  • contribute to the work of the borough's Vulnerability (Harm Reduction) Hub and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)
  • seek continual improvements to services for our customers, including development of digital accessibility
  • explore how the private rented sector can contribute to meeting housing need

Objective 2 - to support those who are faced with homelessness issues, specifically, those rough sleeping

We jointly commission our rough sleeper's outreach service with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, to help rough sleepers move off the streets with a view of securing accommodation and access to other services.

We have a rough sleeper coordinator to ensure rough sleeping issues are understood more widely and to work with all areas to collectively deliver a joined-up approach on the aspirations to reduce rough sleeping. Additionally, we have a rough sleeper navigator to engage directly with and case manage, those rough sleeping and with complex needs to ensure that they are supported into treatment services and pathways to accommodation.

We work with a number of support services who provide their own outreach service within the borough and also hold drop-in sessions and participate in multi-agency meeting to develop targeted actions and solutions for individual rough sleepers.

We will:

  • actively seek funding opportunities to maintain the rough sleeper co-ordinator and navigator roles
  • continue to monitor and identify our local needs and be able to feed these into future strategic plans
  • work closely with MHCLG colleagues to develop more innovative solutions and housing options for our residents with complex needs
  • seek external funding opportunities to assist in the development of addition tools to assist though rough sleeping and to encourage engagement with specialist support services
  • work with other commissioners to influence the development of joined up services for customers who are homeless and who have complex needs, for example specialist healthcare worker
  • provide appropriate housing pathways off the streets for those who are sleeping rough in our borough
  • deliver the objectives highlighted in the homelessness strategy action plan

Objective 3 - to operate a housing allocation system; both registration and allocation which will allow those in housing need to be able to access appropriate social housing

In collaboration with Aspire Housing, we have created a joint housing register and implemented an on line system for the allocation of social housing, which is via a choice-based lettings (CBL) system, allowing those on the housing register to bid for properties.

We have a range of nominations agreements with a number of registered providers with social housing stock in the borough, in order to ensure that available social housing is used in the most effective manner to meet housing needs and to ensure that homeless households are accessing the most appropriate housing stock available.

We will:

  • continue to work with our registered provider partners to ensure that the joint housing allocation policy and housing register are working well to ensure households with a housing need gain appropriate access to available social housing stock
  • contribute to the work of the North Staffordshire lettings forum to encourage good practice and opportunities for joint working with registered providers in the borough
  • continue to work with registered providers to encourage an increase in the supply of social housing in the borough

Objective 4 - to minimise the use of temporary accommodation as a long-term objective, and to create more emergency and temporary accommodation options (which are cost effective with the appropriate support)

We have created a temporary accommodation policy setting out our approach to the use of temporary accommodation, to ensure that it is suitable, cost-effective and meets local needs. We continue to explore and develop the procurement of temporary accommodation options to provide support for homeless singles and families and individuals presenting with more complex needs, including rough sleepers.

We will:

  • continue to monitor the use and the costs of temporary accommodation
  • implement the objectives of the temporary accommodation policy, to ensure that household have access to suitable emergency and/or temporary accommodation for an appropriate duration
  • create appropriate temporary accommodation pathways for homeless individuals with complex needs to encourage continued engagement
  • seek to minimise the use of temporary accommodation by preventing and reducing homelessness where practically possible