New Social Housing Rules Will Exclude Thousands

Hounslow Council tougher rules prioritise local connections

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Over 8,000 people will not meet the new criteria for social housing in the borough, as changes are made to social housing allocations from this summer. One of the new rules is that people must have lived in the Borough for five years to qualify for the housing register.

Hounslow Council have decided that people with strong local connections, low income households and members of the armed forces are to be given priority for social housing in future.

Demand for social housing in Hounslow continues to soar, with almost 12,000 households currently on the housing register. This figure is growing by around 50 every month, and is expected to increase further as the impacts of the Government’s welfare reforms take effect.

The council and registered social providers own just over 20,000 homes for rent in Hounslow, but only 981 homes became available to let in 2010/11 and 871 in 2011/12. For family homes of two or more bedrooms, only around 400 become available every year.

Local councillors have agreed to plans to change how social housing is allocated, following new national legislation which forced the council had to review its housing allocations policy. Under the new approach, applications will be assessed and allocated to a band, dependent on an assessment of their housing need.

It is estimated that around 8,000 people currently on the housing register will not meet the new criteria. The Council said that these people will be contacted to let them know the situation and the options available to them. There will also be a helpline number and an email address for them to contact.

Cllr Steve Curran, cabinet member for housing and education at the council, said: “There are thousands of people on the housing register at the moment who, due to the severe shortage of social housing, unfortunately have no realistic chance of being offered a home.

“On top of this we are facing severe pressure as people are being forced out of central London by Government changes to welfare and benefits.

“The changes we have made allow us to give priority to local people who need housing the most, and we will support others to look at alternative options that may be available to them.”

The council consulted with residents and stakeholders on the proposals between September and November last year, which led to a number of changes to the original proposals.

Key features of the new system include:

  • reducing the current 4 bands to a 3 band system;
  • giving priority to members of the British armed forces and their families;
  • giving priority to working households where one adult is in low paid employment of more than 18 hours per week, earning less than £26,000 a year;
  • applicants will be disqualified from the housing register if they are involved in serious anti-social behaviour; and
  • all applicants must currently be living in the borough for five years with no breaks or more, or have lived for a total of five out of the last seven years to qualify.

March 22, 2013