To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of the roll out of choice-based letting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Choice Based Letting (CBL) is a method whereby available social housing stock is let by being openly advertised by local authorities to persons on the social housing waiting list. This allows qualified applicants to 'register an interest' in available homes.
Applicants can act on their own initiative to respond to adverts and express an interest in dwellings that they would like to live in, rather than waiting for an authority to offer them a dwelling. This approach offers more choice and involvement for applicant households in selecting a new home, thereby reducing the likelihood of a refusal, and helping to build sustainable tenancies and stable communities.
The Social Housing Allocation (Amendment) Regulations 2016 required all local authorities, if they had not already done so, to provide for CBL as a method of allocation for social housing in their allocation schemes by the end of 2016. The way in which CBL is implemented, including decisions on which properties are to be offered through it, is a matter for the individual authority concerned. However, it must be done in accordance with the relevant regulations and their own scheme of priority.
Given the clear benefits offered by CBL, my Department continues to liaise with the local authorities to ensure that it is implemented as widely as possible across the country and has undertaken a number of surveys in both 2017 and 2018 to determine its uptake and impact. Data garnered through these surveys has shown that over half of all local authorities are operating a CBL system while others are in the process of running pilot schemes with a view to wider roll out in their respective areas. Of those authorities that are operating CBL the expressed view is that it is having a positive effect on how they allocate houses. The data also shows that where CBL is in operation the rate of refusals has dropped. The survey for 2019 is currently underway.
My Department hosted a workshop on CBL with representatives from the local authority sector on 15 November 2019. The aim of the workshop was to bring relevant officials from local authorities together and to provide a forum to discuss the potential for increasing the use of CBL across the State. The workshop also provided an opportunity to those authorities who, for various reasons, are not operating CBL to discuss the issues arising for their authorities.
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