Housing into Work pilot expanded to help more residents

Published: Thursday 10th October 13

A pilot scheme in which young people who are in need of housing and actively seeking full-time work are given the keys to their own council home is being opened up to support even more people.

Wandsworth Council’s Housing into Work pilot is the first instance of a council making it conditional that a resident in line for help with their housing is seeking or securing work.

Initially, the pilot was designed to prioritise local residents aged between 18 and 24, registered unemployed, and who are registered and accepted as a priority applicant for social housing in the borough.

However, the council has decided to move Housing into Work on by broadening the eligibility criteria to help more residents take a step closer to achieving their goals in life.

Going forward, the pilot’s age range will increase to include 18 to 30-year-olds and there will be greater scope to enable people who have part-time employment to apply to take part.

Individuals who work up to and including 16 hours per week and who are or are able to claim Job Seekers’ Allowance will be eligible for the scheme under the changes.

Wandsworth’s housing spokesman, Councillor Paul Ellis, said that a wider section of the community will now have the opportunity to benefit from the pilot, which has identified 20 council homes for use in the scheme along with several properties owned by registered social landlords.

He said: “The first participants to sign up to Housing into Work are on the programme and due to move into their council-let homes in the coming months.

“We’ve decided to expand the pilot to make sure we’re supporting as wide a range of people as possible. In addition to helping residents aged 25 to 30 access housing, we’re also including those who may have a few hours work a week but could have the opportunity to increase their hours and earnings.

“This scheme represents a wonderful opportunity for young people out of work or working only a few hours to receive help accessing training and employment opportunities at the same time as being given somewhere to live.

“In order to constructively help our residents, we believe we need to be doing more than just offering a set of keys to a property – and instead consider how we can link that to helping our residents achieve other goals, including gaining new skills and employment.”

As part of their tenancy agreement, those residents taking part in the pilot will move into a studio or one bedroom council home on the condition they are or have taken steps that make them work ready, find work or increase their hours. Those failing to stick to their side of the bargain will face the prospect of losing their home at the end of their two year fixed term tenancy.

Over the course of the programme, residents will attend meetings with a council liaison officer, engage in training/voluntary work/placements and interviews and generally become ‘work prepared’ and gain employment.

They will undergo periodic reviews with their designated liaison officer in order to make sure they are on the right track and address any concerns or problems they might be experiencing.

Cllr Ellis said: “The pilot is not designed to penalise people who are made redundant or cannot find a job – it will help those willing to get into employment and only penalise those who can't be bothered to make the effort.

“The council’s wider aim is to give a higher priority to low income working families when it comes to allocating council properties. It should be fairer and easier for working families to be given council accommodation.”

The rules of the pilot will only apply to selected new tenancies - current tenants would not be affected.

Last month, the council launched a new local recruitment service called Wandsworth Work Match, which is helping unemployed borough residents secure new jobs, apprenticeships and training roles. Participants in the pilot will be able to benefit from this service.

Battersea Power Station, St James Group, Ballymore, Sainsbury's, Homebase and Wandsworth Council are now filling vacancies through the service along with local hairdressers, independent shops and a number of large retailers.

The Work Match team supports candidates through the application process - including help with CVs and interview skills - to give them the best chance of success.

They will also help unemployed local people find any pre-job training and support they need to get ready for the workplace.

The service works closely with Job Centre Plus, community organisations, local colleges and schools to provide a joined up support network.

ENDS

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