Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Affordable Housing - Thursday, 27th February, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Wantsum Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Gaetano Romagnuolo  Email: 03000 416624

Note No. Item

10:00 - 10:45


Mr Mike Whiting (Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Kent County Council) pdf icon PDF 21 KB


1.    The Chair welcomed everyone present and asked them to introduce themselves. Highlighting the Committee’s terms of reference, he invited Mr Whiting to explain the role that the Cabinet Member for Economic Development could play in affordable housing.


2.    Mr Whiting explained that his primary role was to improve the productivity of Kent by promoting inward investment and making the county a great place to live, work and visit. Living in Kent also needed to be affordable. Whilst the local authority’s powers in relation to housing were limited, it did have the power of influence and numerous partnerships available to it.


3.    KCC was working on a Productivity Strategy and a key feature was skills. He felt that good jobs with good wages were key.


4.    Mr Whiting expressed that coastal communities faced particular challenges, in that whilst housing was cheaper than non-coastal areas, the work opportunities were constrained therefore making homes unaffordable.


5.    He explained that for each housing development a team in Economic Development (ED) would collate the internal bids for Section 106 (S106) contributions and submit those to the relevant district council for consideration. He believed that it was often the case that highways and education needs took precedence over those of affordable housing.


6.    Mr Whiting felt that one area that could be reviewed was whether the bids put forward by KCC services for S106 contributions were always fair and reasonable. In addition, he expressed that KCC should lobby government for more infrastructure funding. By allocating separate funds to larger infrastructure requirements (e.g. roads) there would be more opportunity for S106 contributions to fund needs such as affordable housing.


7.    In relation to government infrastructure funding, Mr Whiting gave an example of a housing development where money from Homes England was secured. However, due to a variety of reasons, the project did not move forward quickly enough, and the grant money was lost. The development still proceeded and therefore called upon S106 contributions.


8.    In answer to a question about prioritising the items included in the Growth Infrastructure Framework (GIF), Mr Whiting explained that each KCC service had its own delivery plan and it could only request S106 money for items that featured in those plans. For example, the Education Commissioning Plan set out future school place numbers. He reminded the Committee that the local authority was only one of a number of public bodies that drew on S106 requests, and prioritising those needs was difficult.


9.    In terms of what should come first, affordable housing or the infrastructure, Mr Whiting felt that one really needed the other. For larger developments, it was perhaps more straightforward to get all the elements in place at the same time. For example, the garden villages in Essex had received forward funding from government which allowed them to build the houses at the same time as the required infrastructure. This was much more difficult when looking at smaller developments of around 50 – 200 houses.


10. The Chair questioned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.

11:00 - 11:45


Vicky Hodson (Partnership Manager, Kent Homechoice) pdf icon PDF 6 KB

Additional documents:


1.            The Chairman welcomed Vicky Hodson to the meeting.


2.            Vicky is the Kent Homechoice Partnership Manager and has responsibility for overseeing the partnership of 14 Kent and Medway Local Authorities, including KCC and 25 Housing Association Partners.   This involves activities such as dealing with partnership agreements, contractual arrangements with system providers, production of statistics and relevant data, customer reviews, training and management of the Kent Homechoice website, as well as ensuring that all systems and processes comply with new legislative requirements, for example GDPR.


3.            Vicky explained that Kent Homechoice is the largest choice-based lettings partnership in the UK,  and is well respected for its success in partnership working, leading on innovation, and continuous improvement in systems and customer services.


4.            Vicky gave an overview of the process:-


5.            SLIDE 1 explained that the Kent Homechoice website was a central access point online that where anyone wanting to apply for social housing could complete a pre-assessment, the system looks at eligibility and assesses the individual needs of an applicant and provides them with an action plan.  She explained that you needed an e. mail address and password and you were then able to upload details and log in to enable you to see what you were able to bid on. 


6.            SLIDE 2 explained that the system was as transparent as possible, and applicants were able to work out for themselves how long they would possibly have to wait.


7.            Every property advertised /listed shows the outcome of who was offered the property by Band and length of time. Applicants can then work out their options. If for example it shows a wait of 4/5 years, they may want to change their preference to another area within their district.


8.            QUESTION - Kent Homechoice are advising clients to move to other areas?


9.            Only within their Borough/District


10.         QUESTION -Eligibility? Residents find this difficult to understand. You need to be articulate. Does local connection relate to jobs? How do we ensure people working locally get accommodation in their area?


11.         There are certain residency and immigration status, Government Policy, Local Connection Criteria is set locally.  (Armed Forces is different).   Every Local Authority has a different criteria.  On the whole they only apply to the Borough that they live in, could look to another Borough if had a family connection or employment.


12.         QUESTION -Does Kent Homechoice have a constitution?   Is it a Charity?


13.         It has a written partnership Agreement with all 14 Kent and Medway Local Authority’s including KCC and 25 Housing Association Partners.


14.         QUESTION - How does the applicant deal with Kent Homechoice?  If I need housing – why Kent Homechoice and not a District Council?


15.         We are a partnership with the District Council’s – it is one central point of contact.


16.         SLIDE 3 depicted the Housing Register Figures for each area.


17.         QUESTION - In Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling it is only those in need that are placed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

12:00 - 12:45


Dr Stanimira Milcheva (Associate Professor in Real Estate and Infrastructure Finance, University College London) pdf icon PDF 7 KB

Additional documents:


1.    The Chair welcomed Dr Stanimira Milcheva to the committee and asked her to introduce herself and to provide an outline of the main responsibilities of her post along with her main research interests.


2.    Dr Stanimira Milcheva, Associate Professor in Real Estate and Infrastructure Finance, University College London – As an Associate Professor in Real Estate and Infrastructure Finance at the University College London (UCL), Dr Milcheva’s most recent research encompassed various aspects of affordable housing, primarily from an institutional point of view. Her research also involved investigative work on how institutional investors approached affordable housing and real estate and their role on prices and the real estate market overall. Dr Milcheva combined a finance angle with an urban economics perspective to investigate the role of spatial linkages, linkages of assets across space and time, for prices and market dynamics. She had an established track record in this area and was well known for her contributions in the intersection of spatial econometrics and asset pricing.


3.    Dr Milcheva had published her work in a number of high-esteemed journals in finance, urban economics, real estate and economics, such as the Journal of Corporate Finance, Journal of Banking and Finance, Journal of Macroeconomics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics and the Journal of Housing Economics. She had presented her research and been invited as a panel member at numerous prestigious conferences and symposiums in the field of real estate. Dr Milcheva had been awarded various prizes for her research output, including Best Paper at the Asian Real Estate Society by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, best research output for 'Thinking out the Box' by the Homer Hoyt Institute, best research output by Cushman and Wakefield, and best research output by the University of Reading Research Endowment Trust Fund.


4.    Q – What is affordable housing?


5.    Dr Milcheva said that affordable housing varied depending on different income groups, as what was deemed affordable for one, may not have been affordable for another. Affordable housing also varied in terms of quality requirements as low quality housing was more affordable than good quality housing which meant that many people had to compromise on the standard of their living conditions. Affordable housing also varied by location, meaning that people were moving outside of less affordable areas (London) and commuting further to work. Dr Milcheva’s research identified that different segments of the affordable housing market needed a tailored approach dependent on the area in which the affordable housing infrastructure was built. However, a significant factor that was highlighted in Dr Michela’s research was that affordable housing was built in the wrong areas.


6.    UCL ran two seminars on the study of affordable housing which were attended by a number of stakeholders from local authorities, housing associations, institutional investors and pension funds. A majority of those present said that affordable housing was linked to market rent, however, the other proportion felt that affordable housing should reflect local income  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.