Posted by: Tom Lloyd14/05/2012
On 19 April 1976 an individual put their name down for housing in Hammersmith and Fulham. They’re still waiting.
The council won’t say any more about who this person is, for confidentiality reasons, but they have said the person has been on the waiting list for 36 years.
For the council this little fact illustrates that the current allocations system – where anyone can go on the waiting list regardless of need – needs to be scrapped.
A draft housing strategy going before the council’s cabinet next week proposes a radical overhaul of housing allocation and tenancy management. Gone is choice-based letting, and a guarantee of social housing for homeless families.
Instead you will have to meet priority need categories just to go on the list, and successful applicants will be offered a choice of ‘housing options’ including social housing, accommodation in the private rented sector, or low-cost homeownership.
If households don’t fancy the ‘offer’ then they’ll drop down the priority scale.
In common with other councils who are reviewing their allocation policies, H&F is looking to favour those in work, people with a local connection, ex-armed forces, and foster carers. It’ll offer five year tenancies to most, but two-years for the young, or anti-social, or anyone who is going into a property the landlord might want to sell.
It is also planning to set an income threshold of £40,200 for social housing (the angle picked up in today’s Times), and potentially shift homeless households out of London (which the Guardian covered when it got hold of a leaked – but accurate – version of the papers a couple of weeks ago).
The newspapers are interested in this one because it is H&F, which is seen as a hotbed of Conservative Party policy development, especially on housing. Its departing leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, has just been appointed as London mayor Boris Johnson’s deputy for policing.
But the reality is there isn’t much that is unusual in what H&F is up to. It’s plans are pretty similar to those being considered in Wandsworth, Barnet, Richmond, or a host of other councils in London and beyond.
It’s quite noticeable that having been given the freedom to manage their own allocation policies, councils seem to be coming to very similar conclusions about the best way to do this.
That could be because the answer is obvious, and they’ve all seen it, or it could be because central government has given quite a clear line about how it sees allocations reform, and councils are beginning to understand that localism doesn’t mean quite what they thought it did.
Either way it’ll be interesting to see how it works out. Will these new policies really result in people getting the housing that is best suited to their needs? Or is this just a very complicated way of disguising the fact that there aren’t enough homes?
Perhaps that person who has been on the H&F waiting list since 1976 knows the answer. Please get in touch if it is you.
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