In determining levels of housing provision, local planning authorities and regional planning bodies should take into account evidence of need and demand, set out in Strategic Housing Market Assessments, and other relevant market information.
The framework set out within our Strategic Housing Market Assessments Practice Guidance provides advice on the use of surveys where they are feasible and appropriate. Our guidance specifies that in rural areas the costs of face-to-face interviews can be expensive and a postal survey may be a more viable option.
The review by the hon. Member for St. Austell, “Living Working Countryside”, published in July 2008 highlighted the problems of local authorities’ information on housing need, particularly in rural areas. We are now seeking views on proposals to reward rural local authorities which are working with parish councils to:
Provide housing needs surveys of parishes; and
Using that information to identify sites for affordable housing to address the needs identified in the surveys.
The proposal is contained in the consultation paper “Housing and planning delivery grant (HPDG): Consultation on allocation mechanism for Year 2 and Year 3” published on 12 May.
Information about English local authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level.
Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.
Information on the number of households housed in temporary accommodation is reported quarterly by local authorities as at the last day of each quarter. The figures include: those households which have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty; those for which inquiries are pending; those being accommodated for a limited period because they have been found intentionally homeless and in priority need; those being accommodated pending possible referral to another authority, and those being accommodated pending the outcome of a local authority review or county court appeal.
Of the total 67,480 households in temporary accommodation on the 31 December 2008, 3,840 of these households were housed by local authorities defined as predominantly rural (with at least half of their population living in rural areas).
Of the total number of affordable housing completions recorded on the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) investment management system (IMS) for 2008-09, 2,420 were in small settlements in England.
The number of local authority affordable housing completions in small settlements is not collected centrally.
Small settlements are defined as settlements with a population of 3,000 or less.