I propose to take Questions Nos. 1588 and 1589 together.
Detailed data of the kind sought by the Deputy is not held in my Department as the management of the letting of social housing homes is a matter for individual housing authorities in the first instance.
The current position in relation to the refusal by households of offers of social housing dwellings is set down in Regulation 12 of the Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, made under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.
Under Regulation 12, a household that refuses two reasonable offers of social housing tenancies in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of one year from the date of the second refusal. An offer is deemed to be reasonable where the dwelling concerned would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the housing needs of the household and, except in an emergency, is located in an area of choice specified by the household.
From engagement with the local authority sector, it has become apparent that the current 12-month sanction is not operating in a manner that sufficiently addresses the potential for households on the waiting list to turn down reasonable housing offers. The refusal of offers can have a serious impact on the efforts by local authorities to manage their social housing letting process effectively and efficiently, lengthening the period ultimately required to complete lettings or re-lettings and resulting in a loss of essential differential rent revenue for extended periods.
For these reasons, I plan to amend the regulations to provide that a household that refuses two reasonable offers in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of five years. The latter period will not be reckonable subsequently for the purposes of determining the household’s relative priority for another social housing tenancy.
Having regard to the overall level of demand for social housing, I am satisfied that the change proposed is a measured step. It is ultimately fair to all households on local authority social housing waiting lists and will be supportive of the work of local authorities, as they seek to improve the efficient use of their social housing stock.