THE way people who need a roof over their head are allocated housing in Carmarthenshire is to change.
Cabinet members have approved a new emergency allocations policy which will directly match individuals presenting as homeless or in greater need with available properties.
If it’s not possible to allocate all properties in this way, the current system – whereby people on the housing register bid online for an available property via a home finder website – would continue.
A report on the proposed emergency policy was presented to cabinet by Cllr Deryk Cundy, who chaired a task and finish scrutiny group to develop it.
Cllr Cundy said the current system “simply cannot keep up with the high volume of allocations needed”, and was also confusing for people.
“This leads to high levels of dissatisfaction and high levels of operational delays getting people in greater need housed,” he said.
The direct matching option, he said, was more effective.
Cllr Cundy said the council, along with other Welsh authorities and social housing landlords, were facing an “unprecedented situation” in terms of demand.
This was being caused by more private landlords selling their properties than in the past, by legal obligations placed on councils, and by levels of homelessness.
Other demand pressures include an expected 141 to 185 asylum seekers requiring accommodation in Carmarthenshire via a Horne Office dispersal scheme, most of whom are single men.
And then there are 102 displaced Ukrainian families living in Carmarthenshire, 73 of which have been staying with host families and the remaining 29 in hotels and temporary accommodation.
At the time the task and finish group was written, the host family scheme was due to expire in December 2022, meaning there was a possibility of some Ukrainian families presenting themselves as homeless to the council.
These numbers, though, are dwarfed by the 4,500-plus individuals currently on the council’s housing register.
The current choice-based allocations policy will be suspended for up to 18 months, and a seminar will take place for all councillors about how the new interim emergency policy works.
Cllr Linda Evans, cabinet member for housing, thanked the councillor-led task and finish group for its work.
Council Leader Darren Price said this was just the type of work that backbench councillors should contribute towards in scrutiny to help develop and improve policies.
“We may not agree with every one of the recommendations but the important thing is that we re being tested and we are being asked to look at various aspects,” he said.