Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) FAQs

Row of houses

The Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) is capital grant funding provided to local authorities across England (including Cheltenham Borough Council)  by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to support the supply of accommodation for households on the government's main resettlement streams who are unable to source alternative accommodation. 

Through Round 1 of the LAHF, Cheltenham Borough Council has secured £2.36m of  DLUHC grant funding to support the delivery of 21 new and existing affordable homes in Cheltenham for eligible households on the Ukrainian and Afghan resettlement and relocation schemes.

A number of commonly asked questions regarding this grant funding, and how it will be used by the Council are set out within the FAQ's below:

  1. From the Local Authority Housing Fund, how much has been allocated to Cheltenham and how were the allocations decided?

The £500m Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) will support local authorities to provide housing to Ukrainians who have fled war and cannot remain in sponsorship and are at risk of homelessness, along with providing homes to Afghans. This will reduce pressures on local housing and homelessness services so that local authorities can continue to provide for local households with housing needs.

An allocations formula was used to determine which local authorities have the greatest need for this funding based on the number of Ukrainian arrivals and the wider housing pressures in each area. For Cheltenham an allocation of £2.36m was granted to Cheltenham Borough Council from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

  1. What investment will the Council be making with £2.36m?

We are clear that as a town of sanctuary the council and Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) have a shared aim to deliver more affordable and sustainable homes to meet demand. We have an ambitious timescale and are perfectly positioned to provide the homes needed at pace. Our approach will be to purchase 21 properties, one of which will be a four bedroom property that will be specifically allocated to an Afghan refugee family from bridging accommodation, with the remaining 15 two bedroom property and 5 three bedroom properties being allocated to Ukrainian families.

The investments made will be dependent on the condition of the property purchased.

We will invest 60 per cent of the total costs for 20 properties and the £2.36m grant funding provided by DLUHC will cover the remaining 40 per cent funding requirement. A maximum of 50 per cent investment will be made for total capital costs to purchase one  bed home. Other costs may include items such as legal costs, material improvement and decoration costs which could be up to on average £20k per property.

  1. How many Afghan households are currently in bridging accommodation in the borough? How long have they been there? 

There is no bridging accommodation housing Afghan households in Cheltenham.

(Bridging accommodation is a term used in refugee resettlement for Afghans. Bridging accommodation is where refugees who have, for example, been evacuated from a country quickly and need accommodation before they can be matched with permanent housing.)

  1. Why are you prioritising Ukrainians above Afghans for homes?

Our focus is to meeting the greatest need. Through the Homes for Ukraine scheme(s), as of 3 November 2023, 148 Ukrainians reside in Cheltenham with 87 sponsors. Alongside the Homes for Ukraine Family Scheme we anticipate that approximately 10 per cent of total Ukrainian guests will be threatened or at risk of homelessness over the duration of the Homes for Ukraine scheme(s). 

Currently, there are no Afghan households resettled through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), in Cheltenham who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. However, the grant funding provided by DLUHC is subject to delivering one  4 bedroom home as part of the grant agreement. The Home Office will match a household to this property when it becomes available. 

  1. What is the criteria that you will follow to allocate suitable accommodation for Ukrainians in Cheltenham? 

Applicants will need to be signed up to Homeseeker Plus scheme and will need to meet the eligibility criteria for any of the following schemes (Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Extension Scheme, Afghan Schemes such as Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)). We will be aiming to provide swift solutions for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to ensure that they and their families can be offered a place they can call home.

In the first instance, priority will be given to eligible Ukrainian households with a local connection to Cheltenham who are currently homeless and/or rough sleeping. In the event that sufficient demand cannot be met by this cohort, then the LAHF homes would then be allocated to eligible Ukrainian households with a local connection to Cheltenham who are threatened with homelessness. Where there is insufficient demand in the first two categories, the remaining 20 acquisitions through the LAHF (or a proportion of CBC’s own stock) will be made available to Ukrainian households who are at risk of homelessness. Should there be insufficient demand in all of the priority need categories outlined above, then the 20 acquisitions through the LAHF will be made available to eligible Afghan households who will be direct matched to available properties.

With regards the property designated for an Afghan family, the details of the property will be provided to the Home Office, with a suitable match to the property then being found by the Home Office.

See more detailed information on how these homes will be allocated.

  1. How many people will be accommodated from other refugee support schemes? 

As a Town of Sanctuary, Cheltenham will help all refugees referred through support schemes with the council and our partners. As outlined above the 21 homes will be part funded by the £2.36m allocation provided by DLUHC through the Local Authority Housing Fund. These homes will be provided by CBC, via CBH, to Ukrainian households who have fled the war in Ukraine and Afghan refugees currently living in bridging hotels.

In terms of the three Ukrainian sponsorship schemes (Homes for Ukraine, Ukraine Extension Scheme and Homes for Ukraine Family Scheme), the Government has not placed any limit or cap on the number of families or individuals fleeing the war in Ukraine who can be accommodated through the various schemes (these being the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, Ukraine Extension Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Family Scheme).

  1. What deadlines need to be met for this project? 

The council is required to exchange contracts by the end of November 2023 on all of these properties and is currently on target to meet this requirement, with the completions of a handful of remaining properties currently being finalised.  

  1. If there isn’t enough demand what might CBC and CBH do? 

In the unlikely event that there will insufficient demand for the accommodation (from either the Ukrainian guests or Afghan refugees), the local lettings plan (link provided above) sets out how we will ensure that the 21 new affordable homes are occupied in accordance with the grant criteria.  

  1. What happens to the housing stock once the commitment to Ukrainian guests and Afghan refugees cease? 

After initial use, the housing will create a lasting legacy for local communities by providing a new and permanent supply of accommodation for local authorities to help address local housing and homelessness pressures.

  1. If CBC and CBH fail in fulfilling their obligations due to market factors what happens to the money? 

If the council and CBH delivers fewer than the 21 homes the funding allocation will be reduced accordingly. The funding will be provided in 2 tranches, 30 per cent in 2022/23 and 70 per cent in 2023/24 dependent on spend. DLUHC is asking the local authority to make best endeavours to deliver the 21 new affordable homes by 30 November 2023. We are on course to achieve this.