Friday, 27 February 2015

Council to give greater priority to employed people

Working households are to be given greater priority at a London authority after the new leader declared he was launching a reform of housing.

Ravi Govindia, who was appointed leader of Wandsworth Council on Wednesday, said he wanted to create a greater mix in the borough’s estates and that council housing should be ‘aspirational’ not ‘a last resort’.

Wandsworth Council said that less than one in three council homes are going to people in employment.

Under the plans, unemployed households would be offered homes in the private rented market and other housing providers while the authority’s housing stock would be offered to working households.

The council said this could be achieved with the proposed change in legislation for providing housing for homeless applicants.

If enacted, councils will no longer have to provide homeless applicants, who it argues are often unemployed, who refuse a suitable offer of private rented housing with temporary accommodation and then social housing.

Mr Govindia also spelt out plans to help first time buyers onto the property market which include a possible new deposit scheme, funded from housing receipts and future development, which is paid back once the property is sold.

Mr Govindia said: ‘I want young people in Wandsworth to have the choice of owning a stake in their home.

‘I want parents to have the choice about which school to send their child and I want to find ways of letting more homes on local estates to people who are working to encourage self-help and investment in the local economy.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Chris

    There are aspects to support here - in particular that social housing is an aspiration and should not be restricted to the tenure of last resort. With the Minister aiming for the latter it is interesting but welcome to find his associate going for the former. So much more positive than Westminster's call for ghettos. And even the return of TIS to preserve rather than lose homes through RTB.

    Could there be some clarity about the employment preference though - will this be given to any employed person, including those on poverty pay, or only those employed and not requiring benefit payments?

    Also - in the pursuit of making social housing the housing of choice, what are Wandsworths development plans to ensure that choice is available to the many rather than the select?

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  • Lee Page

    Wandsworth have been a strange mix for a while. At as time when a Labour government was trying to make councils get rid of their housing stock Wandsworth were emphatically in favour of keeping theirs and developing it further (Hidden Homes was their idea). They're also leading players in ARCH. Add to this 10% of their stock is managed by TMOs.

    As for their development proposals though they have a very wide ranging definition of affordable and had many run-ins with Ken Livingstone when he was Mayor on this.

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  • Ivana Hart

    Wandsworth return to merit based allocation. What can I say but Bravo Ravi, way to go. H&F already allocate one third of social lets to those in work so this is not exactly new. But the change in legislation removes the dead hand of the 77 Homeless Persons act which led directly to the abolition of merit based letting, the introduction of "needs" based letting and the creation of the benefit ghetto council estates that inevitably followed. It has only taken 34 years (and the creation of an inter-generational welfare dependent underclass) but it looks like sanity in returning to the world of social housing allocation at long last...

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  • Although well intentioned, the cost of rents especially for families in private rented temporary accomodation, prohibits the abilty to find employment. Therefore those who are unemployed and go to temporary housing will stay there indefinately. Therefore there needs to be other measures put in place for this type of scheme to work. It is healthy to have a debate about what social housing is about, but 'quick wins' that are not thought through properly dont help.

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  • BlokeWithAConscience

    Some sanity at last as we see a return to homes for the working classes (circa 1977). Of course it isn't quite as simple as that because of the deep recession and high unemployment there are millions that want to work but can't. Also what happens when someone qualifies for council accommodation but is then unfortunate to lose their job? However the new message is welcome of rewarding those that work rather than those that don't want to and have never worked but choose to play the system regarding their homelessness status and the pre-requisite numbers of children to get social housing and HB. Of course this flies in the face of Mr Schapps Localism Bill where you may lose your home if you do well at work after 2,5 or 10 years and where you have to be the most desperate in society to qualify. A system that rewards workers will change the message that we send out to the young and thereby quickly change attitudes, let's hope that the idea catches on and we can turn back the clock.

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