National recognition for innovative approach to the borough’s housing challenges

Monday, 18 October 2021

Our unwavering focus on tackling the borough’s housing challenges, and the progress made in 12 months despite Covid-19, has been acknowledged at national level.

We have been shortlisted as ‘council of the year’ in the prestigious UK housing awards which are run by the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Providing good quality housing for everyone is a key priority of our corporate plan.

The ambition – called Better Homes – is to ensure everyone in the borough has access to good-quality affordable housing which meets their needs.

At the same time the plan commits us to tackling homelessness with no one forced to sleep on the streets.

The borough of Scarborough has historically faced a range of housing issues which have been made more difficult because of the coronavirus pandemic.  There is a very high housing need caused by a lack of affordability, a low-income economy, high second home ownership and a shortage of social housing.

Despite this backdrop, we have supported the development of almost 700 new affordable homes in just five years.  

More than 150 homes have been built in the past 12 months alone and a further 270 will be completed before the end of March 2022.

Working closely with registered providers, Homes England and other partner organisations has been central to our housing success. 

The borough also has high concentrations of privately rented accommodation.  Although much of this of a good standard, a large proportion of the stock is of a lower quality and is badly managed. 

Selective licensing schemes were created to tackle problems with Scarborough’s poor housing stock in the private sector.  Two thousand households are now covered by the schemes and 75 per cent of them have been inspected by the housing team.  There have been 15 prosecutions as a result and thousands of serious defects and hazards have been dealt with.

There has also been a strong focus on improving energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty.  This has seen more than 1,800 residents or households given support. 

Many have benefitted from more energy-efficient heating systems or have been helped to reduce the cost of their utility bills.

Through close working with partner organisations, helping people live independently in their own homes, as well as preventing and dealing with homelessness are also at the top of our overall housing agenda.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we responded quickly to the government’s ‘get everyone in’ initiative to support homeless people and offer them a roof over their heads.  As a result, more than 30 households are now in continuing settled accommodation.

The next phase of the housing programme is the innovative Better Homes project.  We have identified land we own where there is the potential for new affordable homes.  Work is now underway to find a housing association, or other registered provider, so a joint venture, limited liability partnership, can be formed to deliver the project.

The nature of the partnership would allow us to reinvest its share of any surplus funds into future schemes or developments.

Councillor Carl Maw, cabinet member for stronger communities and housing, said:

“To get this kind of national recognition for the work we do is a fantastic achievement.

“I’d like to thank everyone who works in – or supports – our housing service.  

“They have taken an innovative approach to meet the challenges of the last year with the housing first scheme and the Better Homes project.”

“We are a small council and we don’t have the luxury of limitless resources but it’s clear to me that we punch way above our weight.

“Whether it is affordable homes, improving the quality of housing, helping people stay warmer or to reduce their utility bills, our teams work hard every day across the borough.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve continued to achieve so much this year.”