Leading Tory council unveils allocation plans
A flagship Conservative council has published its plans for overhauling how its housing is allocated.
Hammersmith and Fulham intends to scrap its current choice-based lettings system, and replace it with a four tier housing register where applicants will be rated by need.
Those in the highest category – band 1 – will fit into one of the government’s ‘reasonable preference’ categories for housing need, have an urgent need to move, a local connection, and additional priority.
The other bands would all require reasonable preference – which includes factors such as overcrowding, and homelessness – and take into account considerations such as a local connection, and contribution to the community through work such as fostering, or being in the armed forces.
Anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria will not be allowed on the register, which the council expects to reduce its 10,300 strong list by more than half. There will also be an applicant income threshold of £40,200. Individuals or couples who exceed this will generally just be offered advice, or encouraged to consider low-cost homeownership options if they are eligible.
Where applicants are eligible for housing they will be encouraged to consider a range of options that could include social housing, going into the private rented sector, or homeownership. If they decline an offer then this will affect their priority status on the housing register.
The new rules will apply to new tenants, but would affect existing tenants if they apply to be rehoused. Homeless households will fit into the reasonable preference categories, but will not be guaranteed social housing.
Most tenancies will be granted for five years, although two-year tenancies will be given in a range of circumstances, including where the applicant is aged 18 to 25, has been involved in crime or anti-social behaviour, or if the landlord intends to use the home for sale or market rent in the near future.
Hammersmith and Fulham’s plans, which were leaked earlier this month, have now been published in full and are due to be discussed at a council meeting on Monday (21 May) before being issued for public consultation.
Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: ‘These proposals are about rewarding hard working families who are local to the borough.
‘We want to give people a hand up and not a hand out. We fundamentally believe that social housing should be a platform of aspiration which enables progression into other forms of housing, such as low-cost homeownership, rather than a destination in its own right.’