Decision details

Property Acquisitions for Local Authority Housing Fund 2 Officer Decision Notice 6

Decision Maker: Director of Regeneration and Place

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The acquisition of the properties listed in the exempt appendix including the additional expenditure on HM Land Registry Fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax and associated costs are approved.

Reasons for the decision:

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has recognised that Local authorities such as Wirral, who have welcomed Ukrainian and Afghan arrivals are facing challenges in securing settled accommodation for these households, which unless alleviated will further impact on existing housing pressures.
Local Authority Housing Fund 2 (LAHF2) provides an opportunity for Local Authorities such as Wirral to use this funding to support these immediate pressures, as well as build a sustainable stock of affordable housing for the future.
Wirral Council has been allocated £1.93 million LAHF2 from DLUHC for the rapid acquisition by the end of March 2024 for a total of 20 properties. Decisions have already been made for the acquisition of 10 properties and this additional property will bring the total number up to 11 and total spend up to £1,911,240 (excluding associated costs which will also be met from this funding). As with the delivery of affordable housing generally, there is a requirement for Local Authorities to part fund (60%) of the required capital to purchase these homes, recognising that they will receive an ongoing long term rental income from them.
Wirral Council is utilising existing eligible ring fenced grants from a number of sources to provide the remaining 60% (just over £2.29m) funding needed to deliver this programme, including the use of income secured through the planning system (commuted sums for affordable housing), Recycled Affordable Homes Capital Grant funding from Homes England, Better Care Funding along with existing income received in relation to refugee resettlement programmes already being delivered in the borough. There is therefore no additional requirement for any capital funding from the Council’s own resources and no cost to the council's capital borrowing or core budgets.
14 of these properties must be provided to Afghan nationals who have been given settlement status by the UK and have been living in bridging hotels but must now move to settled long-term accommodation. The remaining 6 properties must be used as temporary accommodation, helping to alleviate significant homelessness pressures in the borough.
Officers from Strategic Housing Services and the Asset Management Team are working collectively to identify suitable properties to purchase utilising this funding.
Given the need to progress this scheme within DLUHC’s very ambitious timescales, the Council had to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in August 2023 with DLUHC in recognition of its allocation and the target to progress the acquisition of 20 homes to add to its existing small social housing stock base.
Costs associated with compliance checks and any essential repairs required to the properties will also be met from this funding.
Property acquisition details are set out in the attached exempt appendix.

Alternative options considered:

The Council could have given this grant funding to Registered Providers to acquire additional housing stock in the borough, but the preferred option is to acquire the properties for Council Ownership so that an income can be generated in the future from rental income and reduce the burden on housing subsidy loss for use of bed and breakfast.
The Council already has an existing management agreement in place with a local Registered Provider of Affordable housing in relation to its small social housing stock base and these homes can be added to this agreement without the need to procure a further partner.

Publication date: 09/11/2023

Date of decision: 09/11/2023

Accompanying Documents: