We understand you may have some questions about the proposed changes to the housing allocations scheme, so we have created some frequently asked questions.

What is a housing allocations scheme?

The housing allocation scheme is a policy that sets out who is eligible for affordable housing, how their housing needs will be assessed, and what relative priority their application will be given. It also determines how the housing register will operate and how social housing owned and managed by partner housing associations will be allocated and let.

Why does the Council need an allocation scheme?

Every local authority has a legal duty to publish their housing allocation scheme, as set out in Section 166A of the Housing Act 1996.

Although North Norfolk District Council transferred its housing stock, the Council retains several statutory housing obligations. One of these is the requirement to formulate, adopt and amend an allocation scheme to ensure that the assessment and allocation of housing is delivered fairly and transparently and that the available properties are allocated by levels of housing need.

How many people are on the housing register in North Norfolk?

We are currently facing a housing crisis, both nationally and locally, in North Norfolk. Sadly, the demand for social housing far exceeds the number of homes available, and we have over 2,500 people on the housing list.

How many homes become available each year?

In 2023/24, 258 properties became available to let a reduction of almost 20% in 2022/23. 

Number of bedrooms Housing register Housing options Transfer
1 bed 110 10 5
2 beds 100 6 5
3 beds 20 0 1
4 beds 1 0 0
5 beds + 0 0 0
Total 231 16 11

Why are we changing the housing allocations scheme?

By law every local authority has to adopt a housing allocations policy, which must be published and kept under review.

The last time we made any significant changes to this policy was 2017. We are making changes to reflect the increasing demand for affordable housing and the lack of properties that have become available for letting. We also need to make changes to reflect changes made through new legislation and regulation, including the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and the Armed Forces Covenant.

What changes are being proposed?

There are minor changes throughout the scheme that serve to provide clarity, update procedures and legislative updates and generally tidy up the policy.

The revised scheme also proposes to make changes to how applications for social housing are assessed and prioritised to decide who can join the housing register and how we prioritise housing.

The main reasons why someone may no longer qualify or be able to join the housing register are:

  • not living in North Norfolk for three years without a break
  • not having an identified housing need
  • have enough money to be able to find your own housing
  • have a housing-related debt, which is not reducing through an agreed payment plan
  • have been the cause of anti-social or unacceptable behaviour.

We are also proposing changes around how homes are allocated, bedroom eligibility, the number of properties an applicant can refuse and the requirement for applicants to be actively bidding.

I am on the housing register. Do I need to do anything?

Once the final policy has been agreed upon, we will contact you. If you want to stay on the housing register, you will need to reapply and provide up-to-date information about your circumstances, including confirmation of who is living in your household, so your needs can be reassessed against the new housing allocation scheme.

At this stage, you do not need to do anything.

Will I automatically qualify?

No. All applicants will be reassessed against our new housing allocations scheme. There have been some changes to the qualifying local connection and housing need criteria. Some applicants may, therefore, not qualify to rejoin the housing register. If you do qualify, you may have a different priority for housing than you do now.

Will I need to provide copies of all my documents again?

We will let you know which documents you need to provide.

Will I retain my original application date?

If you are currently on the housing register (PC, Band 1 and Band 2) and you qualify under the new banding scheme, your priority date will remain the same. If you are on the housing options or transfer register and upon review of your reapplication, you are now entitled to a higher priority level. The date you submitted your online application will be used as your priority date.

Why don’t those who have been on the housing register for the longest amount of time receive more priority?

Priority on the housing register is based on housing need rather than the amount of time spent on the register. As applicants with a greater housing need join the register, they will take priority over those with lower needs who may have been on the register longer.

If two applicants within the same band bid on the same property, priority will be given to the applicant who has been on the register the longest.

What happens if I don’t meet the new eligibility criteria?

If you do not qualify or are not eligible to join the register following the changes, you will be offered advice and assistance to pursue other rehousing solutions. For example, if you are already a housing association tenant who is adequately housed but would still like to transfer, you can register with Homeswapper. a mutual exchange service for social housing tenants which is a free service to use.

Why are you seeking to reduce the numbers on the housing register?  

We believe we are giving people unrealistic expectations. We don’t want people to exclude alternatives in the generally mistaken belief that they will eventually get a social housing home. 

We want the numbers on the housing register to reflect the availability of affordable housing and more closely reflect the changes of being housed. Most applicants particularly those in lower levels of housing need will not be housed and therefore being accepted onto a housing register can give applicants unrealistic expectations which might prevent consideration of other housing solutions.

Can I appeal any decision?

Applicants have the right to request review within 21 days of being told that they do not qualify to join the housing register or because your priority band has changed. You can find more details of your right of review within our Housing Allocations Scheme.

What is a banding system?

The proposed housing allocation scheme seeks to move to one register or list, with five bands (A to E).  The new banding system is weighted to meeting the needs of those in reasonable preference categories. This is a legislative requirement, although legislation does not require that they should be given absolute priority over everyone else. For example, in Band A we would also support those who would like to move to a smaller home so we can free up under-occupied homes for applicants who need a larger home.

What is a direct let?

A direct let means that an applicant will not bid on properties but will receive one offer of suitable accommodation. The scheme allows for a proportion of lets to be made outside of the choice-based lettings system in exceptional cases or where there are operational or strategic reason for doing so.

Why are we proposing to change the property eligibility?

We are proposing to adopt the government bedroom standard that allows for siblings of the same sex to share until the eldest reaches the age of 20.  We know that Universal Credit and Housing Benefit rules allow family members (who are not spouses or partners) to have their own room at 16. However, the gap between the demand and supply for larger homes means that in reality larger families are not going to have their situation improved or need met through  joining the housing register.

How can I comment on the proposals?

You can fill in our online survey. If you have any questions, or would like to request a paper copy of the questionnaire you can call 01263 513811 or email yourvoice.housing@north-norfolk.gov.uk

What happens next?

Following the consultation, all responses will be considered and will help to shape the Housing Allocations Scheme policy.

The new scheme will be published later in the year and applicants will be invited to reapply or apply before the new scheme being implemented from April 2025.

Current applicants will be contacted and invited to reapply when we reach this stage of the process.