Appropriate, affordable housing in Southend and throughout Essex.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council states that it is committed to providing appropriate housing for all sectors of the community. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of suitable social housing in the borough and this is a cause for considerable concern. Nonetheless there are now many schemes available, both in Southend and throughout the county, to help people find affordable homes to meet their needs.
Affordable, appropriate housing is an essential part of the health and wellbeing of the community: if your property is overcrowded, in a bad state of repair or generally does not meet the needs of your family, then do try and find out what the alternatives might be for you. There are often choices that we may not at first be aware of. Housing officers, your local councillor and the Citizens Advice Bureau can all provide support and advice.
We have included the following information from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in acknowledgement of the huge impact our day-to-day living conditions have on our health and wellbeing.
“An increasing number of people from various sectors of the population face the problem of finding a secure, quality, affordable home which meets their needs. It is an important issue as the housing we can afford to live in impacts on our own and future generation’s health and quality of life. Southend-on-Sea has a ‘Housing Choice Agenda’ to help ensure residents find appropriate accommodation and offers schemes that many people may not be aware of.
The Southend-on-Sea Housing Choice Agenda empowers the residents with greater choice. They can select the type of accommodation they wish to live in thereby contributing to their own physical and mental well-being. The Housing Choice Agenda deals with affordability, improvement of social mix and the health and well being of all people within the borough.
Regional HomeBuy Agents have been appointed by the Housing Corporation nationally. This has facilitated access for ‘key workers’ and ‘employed people’ to quality, affordable housing. click here for full details of eligible, key worker roles:
‘Affordable Housing’ in Southend on Sea incorporates ‘Social Rented Affordable Housing’ and is let by Registered Social Landlords (RSL's) and South Essex Homes (SEH) the Council’s Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). Rent is set in line with Housing Corporation Targets.
Within the town the ‘Intermediate Affordable Housing Sector’ also provides homes. Prices are set above those of social rent but below the full market value of property. This type of housing is available to employed people and key workers who earn between £22,000 and £60,000 per annum. A list of schemes available in Southend is listed below.
- ‘Open Market HomeBuy’ assists with the purchase of a home on the open market using loans such as ‘MyChoiceHomeBuy’ or ‘Ownhome’. Applicants raise a mortgage for 75% of the property value and can get a 12.5% equity loan from an approved lender. Moat provides the remaining 12.5% as an additional equity loan on which no interest will ever be charged. The approved lender may choose to charge interest at a maximum of 3% on their equity loan after the first 5 years.
- ‘New Build HomeBuy’ is a part buy/part rent scheme and offers the opportunity of purchasing a share in a brand new home. At a later stage, more shares in a property can be bought until 100% is owned. A subsidised rent is calculated and paid on the share that is not owned.
- ‘Resales’ allows the purchase of a ‘bought’ share of an existing part rent/part buy agreement.
- ‘New Build Discounted Rent’ offers a key worker the opportunity to rent a newly built home at approximately 80% of ordinary market value (compared to homes of a similar size and specification in the surrounding areas).
- ‘Rent to HomeBuy’ allows renting within specific, new build developments. Rent is paid at a discounted rate for a limited and defined period, after which the property is purchased on the terms of the New Build HomeBuy Scheme. The property is rented on the basis of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and the rent is 80% of the market rent or less.
The schemes described above are offered by Moat, Essex’s HomeBuy Agent. ...... More
Encouraging sustainable housing that is ‘energy, water and other resource efficient’ also addresses the affordable living issue. Eco-friendly design features in new homes maximise the use of renewable and recycled resources. The provision of advice when making improvements to the domestic energy efficiency of existing homes (central heating, double glazing, and insulation improvements) helps in minimising fuel poverty amongst vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups on low incomes within the borough.
Improvement of Social Mix
Good design within housing schemes is crucial in providing high quality housing options. A Design and Townscape Guide has been published by Southend Council to help create neighbourhoods that enhance people’s mental health, community relationships and the concept of ‘place making’.
Health and Well Being
The Decent Homes Standard is embedded within Southend on Sea’s housing schemes. Adoption of the standard ensures that new and existing homes continue to contribute to the health and well being of the local community. The Council work in partnership with South Essex Homes and registered social/private landlords to ensure that new, affordable housing schemes and recommissioned, empty homes meet the specified standards.
The Housing Choice Agenda assists Southend Borough Council in meeting the housing needs of people that have long-term health conditions. Adapting homes for those with Physical and Sensory Impairments, Learning Disabilities and those who are ill provides ‘Lifetime Homes’ that sustain local family, peer and community relationships.
Finally, the Council is committed to assisting vulnerable people in securing appropriate accommodation and access to ‘Supported Living Models’ is including Floating Support. This promotes independence, choice and well being. Specific interventions such as physical adaptations, the provision of emergency access and move-on accommodation have the potential to positively benefit the health of vulnerable people.
To summarise, Southend on Sea provides a Housing Choice Agenda that provides high quality; affordable housing for local people in need. This housing aims to be fuel and resource efficient and located in a cohesive, healthy community. The agenda therefore helps sustain the health and well being of the local community.
For more information on Southend Borough Council please visit www.southend.gov.uk