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Issue 18: Winter 2012

Homechoice, Housing Options, Temporary Accommodation and Resettlement newsletter

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Welcome... …to the winter 2012 issue of the Going Places newsletter. This newsletter is for all customers and partners of the Housing Need and Support Service, including Homechoice, Housing Options, Resettlement and Temporary Accommodation. We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. If you have any comments or suggestions for articles in the future, please contact us via the details on the back page.

Allocations Policy coming soon…

For more information, please see page 2.

the cut price



over 40 quick and tasty budg

Tr a n s fo r m in g L i ves

Funded by:


Supporting: Helping the Homeless into Housing


y goes to

all mone

ty H3 chari

Over 40 quick and tasty budget recipes. On sale now!

To buy your copy, please email recipesor call Vijay on 0161 218 1036.

homechoice Providing rented homes throughout Stockport

Rehousing services news

The new Allocations Policy is on its way! To keep in line with national guidance the Council is making some changes to the Allocations Policy, including a new points system, which is easier to understand with fewer categories. The main changes are: • higher priority for people down-sizing from a house to a smaller property (to help free up more homes); • higher priority for overcrowded applicants; • higher priority for those who have been in the armed forces and in housing need; • higher priority for customers working 16 hours per week or more; and • some additional priority for people volunteering for at least eight hours or in training for at least 16 hours per week. All Homechoice applications will be re-assessed in line with the new policy and customers will receive a letter to advise them of their new points level.

! Changes to benefits

Welfare Reform

There are also some changes to the size of property certain applicants will be eligible for due to the Welfare Reform changes that will be introduced by the Government in 2013.

• Applicants who have access to children will no longer be eligible for a two bedroomed property unless they can demonstrate they are able to afford a larger property as Housing Benefit will be restricted to one bedroom rate. Proof of income will be required. • Two children of different sexes under the age of 10 years will be expected to share a bedroom. This change has been made to reflect Housing Benefit guidelines.

i 2

If you have any enquiries about the new policy changes, please contact the Homechoice Team on 0161 474 2975 or email

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012

Changes will include additional priority for:



People in employment, volunteering or training

People leaving the armed forces.

Rehousing services news

Housing Options – Your way, your choice Get information on: Shared ownership Homechoice Private rent Adaptations


The Housing Options Team has launched a new web-based personalised Housing Options Action Plan. The website allows you to get information on: • buying a property through shared ownership; • doing a mutual exchange if you are an existing Stockport Homes or housing association tenant; • renting a property from a private landlord or lettings agent; • applying for social housing such as through Homechoice; • accessing supported housing; • applying for adapted housing or help with making adaptations to your current property; and • accessing sheltered housing properties.

You can also find information on jobs and training, money or benefits, homelessness prevention, the Government’s Mortgage Rescue Scheme and disrepair at the click of a button. The website is easy to use, personalised to meet your individual needs and provides you with the necessary information to explore the options specific to you.


For more information, see the Stockport Homes website or visit

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012



Homechoice prospects

Providing rented homes throughout Stockport

Information about property demand Homechoice advertise properties on a weekly basis. Property details are available on the Homechoice website and at the area offices, libraries and advice centres throughout the Borough. Once customers are registered, bids can be made provided they are eligible for the size and type of property and they meet any restrictions which may apply (for example, age restrictions). Due to the high demand for social housing and the low number of vacancies customers need to be as flexible as possible about areas and types of property they will consider. Unfortunately many applicants are unsuccessful with their bids.

Bid online. Visit:

Bid over the phone:

0161 474 4567

The information below may help you when deciding what properties to bid for:

Number of customers currently registered for each size of property:

1 bed

3,760 customers

2 bed



3 bed


5 bed


4 bed


6 bed







Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Homechoice prospects Number of properties advertised and number of bids received by property type in the last 12 months: Family sized accommodation always attracts high numbers of bids and two bedroomed houses in particular always receive a lot of bids in comparison to other types and sizes of property. Please note that these are averages and some properties will be let on lower or higher points. Areas which have fewer properties becoming available are usually let at higher levels of points.


No. of No. of Average points properties bids properties let advertised received for in the last 12 months





1 bed bungalow




1 bed flat




1 bed multi-storey 180



2 bed flat




2 bed house




2 bed maisonette




2 bed multi-storey 118



3 bed house




3 bed maisonette




3 bed multi-storey 32



4 bed house








114 bids on average

2 bed house

2 bed multi-storey

We received

average points

41,624 bids in the last 12 months.



bids on average

average points



bids on average

Providing rented homes throughout Stockport

3 bed house

average points

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Volunteering, training and employment news

Jackie receiving her STAR award

Rachel Coyle receiving Green Star Award Following on from her highly commended runner-up position as Tenant / Resident of the Year at the Northern Region TPAS Awards, Strathclyde House volunteer Jackie Myerscough has gone on to enjoy the same success at both the NFA Awards and Stockport Homes Star Awards – well done Jackie! The icing on the cake for Jackie and her fellow volunteers though was winning the Green Star Award for their joint hard work across all three of the Temporary Accommodation Schemes. The temporary accommodation volunteers have gone above and beyond expectations since commencing work over the last year, contributing over 1,100 hours of their own time to developing allotments and gardens, 6

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012

co-ordinating FareShare food distribution, learning painting and decorating skills, and even setting up a fish tank for residents to enjoy at Strathclyde House. Despite its sometimes physically challenging nature, this work gives people a real chance to get involved and have fun. The volunteers clearly deserve recognition for working so selflessly to improve the lives of people who are homeless. Well done to: • • • •

Mark Beese Paul Colduck Chervorne Garner Keith Goldstraw

• • • •

Stuart Meakin Jackie Myerscough Amy Smith Rachel Coyle

Resettlement Services news

Stockport Homes’ Lettings Service

0161 218 1083 Stockport Homes’ Lettings Service helps households in housing need access properties within the private sector. The demand for social housing has risen and there are not enough houses to keep up with this demand. By working with landlords in the private sector we aim to increase the properties available to rent and give tenants wider choice in their housing options.

Example kitchen from a two bedroom flat

EXPERT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Within the first four months of the service we

Unlike other lettings agents we do not charge fees to tenants who rent a property through Stockport Homes’ Lettings Service. We are not driven by profit, but rather have the best interests of landlords and tenants as our primary motivation.

let 20 properties. We set up 14 tenancies which helped single people, couples and families move into suitable accommodation. We have properties currently available and will be continuing to expand the service.


For more information, please contact Kate Pilley, Social Lettings Project Officer on 0161 218 1083 or email

Are you looking to get into work? Are you aged over 16? If you answered yes to the above and you are receiving one of the following benefits then we can help you. • • • •

Income Support Jobseekers Allowance Employment Support Allowance Carer’s Allowance

We can help with issues that may have been a barrier to employment such as: • family concerns – parenting, relationship issues; • self-confidence and communication difficulties; and • lack of training and work experience.

The support provided through this service so far has enabled customers: • to access work ‘taster’ placement schemes to improve their employment skills and obtain references for job applications; • to access anxiety management and confidence building courses (for people with mental health needs or who struggle to engage socially); and • to take up volunteering opportunities. Please note: This programme is voluntary and will not affect your benefits. For more information, please contact Asaf Iqbal Baz (Resettlement Officer) or Biff Reston (Resettlement Officer) on 0161 474 3772 or email


Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Temporary Accommodation news Buxton Road garden project Buxton Road’s garden project has been buzzing this summer, making it a greener and cleaner place. Staff and residents have worked hard clearing all the rubbish in the garden and filling the flower beds with compost. Residents have enjoyed fresh sugar snap peas along with carrots, beetroot and spring onion. These fresh healthy ingredients have been well used at cooking nights at the scheme. We also donated some of our supplies to a local Sheltered Housing Scheme for older people. The garden now has a professional look about it, with the addition of a greenhouse and shed.

Work still continues with the project thanks to funding from Manchester Airport, and the garden has become a great venue for BBQ’S involving the staff and residents. All that hard work is starting to pay off; hopefully next summer will give us enough sun to get the last bits finished! Article by Jason Sharp, Project Worker Assistant

Strathclyde House goes red, white and blue Hundreds of sandwiches and scones were made by residents and staff for Strathclyde House’s Traditional English Tea to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. It provided a good opportunity for current and former residents to catch up and children to get together to enjoy a fun packed afternoon, and the delights of a traditional English trifle. The bouncy castle was a huge hit, and residents were able to take part in fun games and activities, including a hula hoop contest and egg and spoon races. Article by Katherine Tandy, Project Worker Assistant 8

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012

Temporary Accommodation news Buxton Road Olympic Celebrations

At 8am on 24 June the A6 filled with rows and rows of people (including residents and staff) waiting for the Olympic torch. The torch procession started to approach; first was a coach holding all the torch bearers, with waves and clapping from all in attendance, followed by decorated trucks, music, dancers and flags. This added to the electric atmosphere as the Olympic torch came by held by Claudia Thomas.

At this point the crowd, the staff and the residents went crazy, cheering, clapping and waving. We heard some more cheering behind us; we turned to see that other residents had been woken by the noise and were celebrating from their windows! This momentous occasion set a great vibe for the day with the staff and residents enjoying a brew and chatting before starting their days.

Man Utd vs Galatasaray Thanks to the hard work of Project Worker Elaine Prendiville and the generosity of the Manchester United Foundation, residents from the Temporary Accommodation Schemes received 19 tickets to attend the Manchester United vs Galatasaray Champions League match on 19 September. The atmosphere inside Old Trafford was amazing as everyone sang and cheered along with the 74,653 others present. At the end United fans walked away happy with a win, and all the residents commented on how much they enjoyed the trip, sending a letter of thanks to the Manchester United Foundation.

Alongside this match Buxton Road residents have continued taking part in Stockport Street Soccer – where one day we might see the footballing starts of the future! Articles by Jason Sharp, Project Worker Assistant Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Temporary Accommodation news

Strathclyde artists Some residents have been busy producing som e works of art. The canvas ar twork has been a great way of expressing feelings ab out homelessness in a cr eative way, whilst socialisin g at Strathclyde House.

Egg-cellent Easter at Brindale House The annual Easter party was held on Thursday 5 April. Mark Halstead from Repair 1st organised an Easter egg collection amongst staff and suppliers. Everyone enjoyed a room full of bunting and balloons, and a selection of party food and drinks before making some Easter bonnets and cards. This was followed by an Easter egg hunt. 10

The grand finale was the arrival of the Easter bunny to distribute the donated Easter eggs and have photographs taken with the children. The residents are already asking about next year’s party!

Article by Becky Furness, Student Social Worker

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012

H3 news

Helping the Homeless into Housing

When H3 became a registered charity in early 2012, it brought together a winning combination of temporary accommodation residents, staff working with the homeless, and other agencies. All of these are now sharing their strengths and resources to develop enhanced provision for people who are homeless.

H3 gets on-line

Charity number – 1147113

Rags to Riches

Thanks to funding from Trafford Hall Tenants Resource Centre, H3 has purchased two new notebooks equipped with Wi-Fi access. The notebooks have been used to produce the charity’s website which, as well as developing the Committee Members’ new IT skills, will showcase the great work H3 is doing in Stockport for homeless people.

H3 is embarking on an exciting new project to collect unwanted clothing, shoes, boots, trainers, belts, handbags, bedding, curtains and textiles from the residents of Stockport. So far an eye-watering 84 stones worth of clothing has been donated! H3 will be working to recycle all donations to provide: • much needed clothing to the homeless, many of whom are living in temporary accommodation schemes; • classes to educate homeless people in repairing and prolonging the life of clothing; and • workshops on how to recycle material.

The charity can now dedicate more time to: • ensuring that the content is easy to find, up-to-date and appealing; • encouraging visitors to make donations to the charity via Local Giving; and • developing a social media presence through Facebook and Twitter.

Working with easy-go

H3 is now delighted to announce that it has begun working in partnership with easy-go, a local community transport initiative. This valuable service will help homeless families move on to their new homes.

Where clothing cannot be reused the material is sold to generate funds to provide homeless people with basic household items and FareShare food, an initiative which makes use of surplus products from the food and drink industry.


To donate any items or for more information, please contact Vijay Chauhan, H3 Support and Development Officer on 07800 618 628 or email

H3 - Helping the Homeless into Housing Text HTHH01 £1 / £2 / £5 to 70070 to donate now eg HTHH01 £5

by Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Customer Involvement news

You said, we did Following your suggestions, we have made the following improvements:

Barclays Bank have agreed to attend customer meetings to give advice on setting up bank accounts before Universal Credit starts.

The Resettlement exit form will have more sections highlighted and in bold where customers have suggested there are important details. The Homechoice advert is now more colourful, with clearly divided sections making it easier to see which properties you can bid for.

Thanks to funding from Vernon Building Society craft sessions will be held more regularly at Temporary Accommodation Schemes.

New PVC windows with restrictors are being installed at Strathclyde House.

The Pre-Tenancy Workshops have been changed to become one-off sessions, still covering all the essentials on moving in to a new home. 12

Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012

Decisions about homelessness

Facts and figures

Full rehousing duty owed Not priority need Intentionally homeless

Housing Options

Not homeless 0

From April 2012 – September 2012





100 120 140

Left accommodation provided by Home Office

Reasons for ‘full duty’ / priority homelessness

The following facts and figures are designed to show you how the services represented in this newsletter are performing against standards agreed with you, our customers, and give an overview of what is happening here in Stockport.

Loss of private rented accommodation Domestic abuse Relationship breakdown 0

Number of visits to the Housing Information Centre:


Average wait for an interview:

5 minutes










Asked to leave by parents

Average number of working days to answer letters:

5 days

Decisions made within 33 working days (government guidance): 91%

Rehousing Services – Local Standards: The Housing Options and Homechoice Teams are very busy services; despite this the teams strive to ensure that customers are provided with good quality support. As a result Local Standards have been drawn up in consultation with our customers, and in accordance with national requirements. These are available on our website and in a leaflet format on request – just contact the relevant team via the details in this newsletter. From April – September 2012, all our Local Standards were

on target.

Temporary accommodation: Temporary accommodation in Stockport is in high demand; Stockport Homes works hard to ensure people are provided with advice to prevent them from becoming homeless, and

where this cannot be stopped it aims to ensure that they are helped to move on to their own accommodation as quickly as possible.

Number accommodated:

Average length of stay (days):









Single men

Single men

Single women / mums and babies

Single women / mums and babies







Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Facts and figures Repairs at Temporary Accommodation Schemes: Making the Temporary Accommodation Schemes pleasant and safe places to live depends upon making sure repairs are done to a high standard and on time.

Percent of repairs complete within target:

99% 100%

To help with this, residents are involved in health and safety checks and encouraged to report faults whenever they see them and are involved in monitoring performance and making suggestions for improvements to the repairs process.

98% 20




Single men Single women / mums and babies



Families and offsite



Resettlement Service: 3,026.5 hours

The Resettlement Team provide support to new and existing tenants in setting up and maintaining their homes. This support can be for up to two years, depending on the tenant’s needs and whether they wish to continue being involved with the service.

of resettlement support were provided.

3,014.75 hours

of tenancy support were provided.

At the end of this period of the 92 Resettlement cases closed: 82 were successful 6 remained in properties but disengaged 1 moved into supported accommodation 1 fled to refuge 1 moved back to parents 1 moved into private accommodation


Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012

t Ac w ! no

Welfare Reform news

! Changes to benefits

Welfare Reform Reduction for people under-occupying

Direct Payment of Housing Benefit

From April 2013, the amount of Housing Benefit (HB) paid to working age tenants who have spare bedrooms in their homes will be reduced.

Currently Housing Benefit can be paid directly to the Stockport Homes. In future, this is going to change so that payments will be made directly to tenants.

If you are of working age, and have a spare room, you will have your HB reduced if you are one of the following groups:

Although there will be some exceptions for vulnerable people, it is essential all tenants have a way of paying their rent as soon as they receive their payment.

• If you are single, and live in a two (or more) bedroomed property • Couples living alone in two (or more) bedroomed properties • Families in three (or more) bedroomed accommodation where children could share a bedroom in other words, two same sex children aged under 16, or two aged under 10 regardless of sex. At the moment, you will lose around £12 to £22 per week, depending on how many spare rooms you have.

This could have a big impact on the way tenants manage their money, so it is important that you start to think now about how the changes might affect you. There are some things you could consider, such as getting a bank account, paying your rent by direct debit, budgeting regularly, or doing a financial health check. Stockport Homes can help you with all of these. If you are worried about how these changes will affect you, or if you need any further advice or information, contact the Social Inclusion Team on 0161 474 2854 or visit


Going Places - Issue 18 Winter 2012


Get in touch Opening hours for the Housing Information Centre: Monday:

8.30am – 4.30pm


9.30am – 4.30pm

Useful numbers:

Wednesday: 8.30am – 4.30pm Thursday:

8.30am – 4.30pm


9.30am – 4.00pm

To see when our offices are open around Christmas, please visit our website or see the posters in reception areas.

Housing Options Team

0161 474 4237

Housing Options (out-of-hours) 0161 477 2626

Housing Information Centre St Petersgate Mersey Square

Homechoice bidding line

0161 474 4567

Homechoice enquiries line

0161 474 2975

Resettlement Team

0161 474 3772

Housing Benefit

0161 217 6015

Citizens Advice Bureau

0870 120 4040

Stockport Advice

0161 217 6009

Greater Manchester St Peter’s Square

Domestic Abuse helpline

Accessing our services If you would like a copy of this newsletter in large print, Braille, on audio tape or CD, please contact the Social Inclusion Team on 0161 474 2860 or email inclusion@ A free interpreting service is available if you need help with this newsletter. Please telephone Stockport Interpreting Unit on 0161 477 9000. Email eds.admin@

0161 636 7525

Going Places - Winter 2012  
Going Places - Winter 2012  

Going Places Newsletter - Issue 18 - Winter 2012