Housing briefing note October 2021


As we celebrate the first year anniversary of bringing the landlord service back in-house I am very pleased that we are doing so in the knowledge that the notice imposed by the Regulator of Social Housing in 2019 has now been lifted.

The team has brought about a massive transformation in the service being provided to our tenants and leaseholders and I congratulate them. I am also reassured by seeing that very positive, enthusiastic approach to delivering the best is being echoed right across the housing service.
Councillor David Godfrey,Cabinet Member for Housing and Special Projects

Progress update for the Highview development

Highview in Moat Farm Road, Folkestone, continues to set the standard for development in the district. Work is expected to start on the 30-unit site early in 2022 and when completed, it aims to be zero carbon in use.

Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems (MVHR), photovoltaics (solar panels), and air source heat pumps (ASHP) are some of the initiatives being used to ensure the homes substantially reduce carbon emissions.

Three tenants' champions are part of the design team for the fully-accessible small neighbourhood, which will also include wheelchair-compliant units. Highview's 24 houses and six flats are all for affordable rent.

Afghan refugee resettlement

Responding to the call for assistance to help families who had arrived in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) we have been able to offer homes for five families.

Our landlord liaison officer has been working with private landlords and we received a positive response and we will be welcoming families soon.

The government has set up a £5 million fund to assist councils to support households to access accommodation. Families currently on our social housing waiting list have not been disadvantaged by this additional support as we are not offering the homes from our existing council housing stock.

 Link to a useful factsheet about the help for Afghan citizens

Homeless in temporary accommodation

We currently have 27 people living in temporary accommodation. In context we had 163 people living in temporary accommodation three years ago and the average local authority has 200 people.

The Housing Options team has developed the Property Solutions Scheme to ensure that as many as possible housing solutions are offered to our clients.

The Property Solutions Scheme provides a range of ways clients can secure their own private sector housing so they can benefit from being placed in the most suitable accommodation in an area of their choice.

Housing work with the Folkestone Rainbow Centre

Over the past two years - particularly during COVID - the housing options team has been working closely with the Rainbow Centre. Our prevention plus staff have been working from the Rainbow Centre in Folkestone advising clients who may be rough sleeping and facilitating long-term rehousing where possible.

This initiative has been so successful that we are looking at future options in joint consultation with the Rainbow Centre to build upon this work and create more positive outcomes for clients.  Link to information for the Rainbow Centre 

Ex-prisoner engagement

We are working with the Ministry of Justice and the National Probation Service to develop frontline services to support those coming out of prison. In order to reduce the risk of reoffending we are working to provide suitable housing options.

With this in mind we have worked with the probation service to secure grant funding from the Accommodation for Offenders Bid. Joint bids were sought and we led the bid on behalf of Folkestone & Hythe District Council and Ashford Borough Council securing £86,000 for the next two years for each authority.

From September we will have a housing solutions officer working from the National Probation Offices in Folkestone, bridging the knowledge gap between housing and probation. We will be running housing surgeries from the probation offices and advising staff on both sides and seeking the best possible housing options for the clients.

Update on Pensand and Marlborough Court in Hythe

The owners of this building, having gained planning consent to redevelop this site some time ago, are to go ahead with their planned development. Our allocations staff and property solutions team, led by our landlord liaison officer, have been working tirelessly and with success to secure alternative accommodation for as many of the 58 households as possible.

Homes to help rough sleepers

The council has purchased three flats to provide long-term homes for four people with a long-term history of rough sleeping.

The three properties in Folkestone have been obtained under the Next Steps Accommodation Programme with grant support from Homes England and the Ministry of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Those who have recently moved in are receiving intensive support (24/7) from a dedicated team at Porchlight who are working to ensure that clients are able to retain their accommodation and move to a more settled way of life.

This work is part of the government's Rough Sleeping Initiative and a key element in the council's Homelessness Prevention Strategy. 
Link to our Homeless Prevention Strategy (PDF, 3MB)

Domestic abuse support

Sadly an increased number of people are turning to the council for help with domestic abuse issues.

Central government has provided funding to address some of the work arising from the new Domestic Abuse Act. Following consultation with partner agencies the housing options team is to work jointly with colleagues in the landlord service to use a unit of the council's general needs housing stock as a safe house for domestic abuse clients.

This unit is to be made available in emergency situations, for example for clients experiencing domestic abuse issues resulting in homelessness. In the first instance this will be fully funded for two years. Our future intention is that we will be able to continue this initiative and possibly add a further unit at a later stage.

For more information or feedback on any of the housing service work please contact housing.service@folkestone-hythe.gov.uk.