Saturday, 22 November 2014

Allocations overhaul to favour workers

A London borough is to give priority to working residents in an overhaul of its housing allocations policy.

Sir Robin Wales, Labour mayor of Newham in east London, said that he wants to reverse a ‘race to the bottom’ which means residents have to prove they are more vulnerable than their neighbour to move into social housing.

Sir Robin announced plans to more easily enable working households to access social housing.

These include prioritising employed residents on the waiting list (within existing bands),  allocating a number of properties to people actively looking for work and allocating the majority of properties in schemes such as the post-Olympics athletes village development to working residents.

Sir Robin said: ‘Social housing should not be housing of last resort.

‘In the past the way it was allocated has meant there was no incentive and little support for residents who want to improve their lives.’

Readers' comments (9)

  • Alpha One

    The danger is, of course, that social housing will be eaten up by those in work or looking for it, and those in need will find themselces without housing, or worst the local authority will have to put them up in private lets, costing the state more.

    I suppose this is where the divide of affordable rents and social rents should come in.

    Reserve a certain amount of affordable rents for tenants in work or looking for work, those who want to "better themselves", and reserve a certain amount of social rents for those in need.

    Basically have a reactive housing policy that means no one is forced to live on the streets, and no one group has more rights than another to a rental property.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chris

    Returning social housing to its orginal housing for all aim is to be applauded - but to achieve it there needs to be more of it, in order to replace the vast amounts of it privatised. However, as so much taxpayer money was given away in that privatisation, and the tenants remaining are expected to pick up the unpaid bills as well as fill the treasury and fund new house building, the whole concept can not be achieved without a massive about face from this government, and a reversal of policy by Labour.

    The Olympic Park would have been an obvious place for Newham to achieve the aim - but it appears they have only just noticed it exists, or else where were their representations to ensure housing of the tenure and affordability that would support this newpolicy were included in the plans.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Gavin Rider

    Curiously I find myself agreeing with Chris today - at least in part.

    Social housing should not be only accessible by what some might cynically regard as a "sub-class" of society (those in need of financial support). But the taxpayer can only afford to subsidise those who really NEED subsidy. How to resolve these two conflicts?

    The answer is quite simple - make social housing accessible to all, at full market rates plus a supplement for security of tenure. (Security is a valuable commodity, so it should be charged for in a market economy).

    Then, apply means-tested benefits to all social tenants. This will reduce the amount payable by those on low income to the same affordable level as existing social rents.

    It will generate additional income from tenants who no longer qualify for subsidy - money that should be re-invested directly in building more social housing.

    Note that the higher the market rent is, the more benefit will be paid through the benefits system to offset the high cost of housing. This should be directly invested in new housing construction by the local authority. In this way, more social housing will be built in areas having the highest market pressures - the money will go directly to where it is needed, proportionately to the need for it.

    Ultimately the growing availability of social housing with security of tenure will help to suppress private rents, so it will stabilise the local housing market.

    Making Social Housing a revenue-generating part of the normal housing market should remove any stigma associated with it, actually making it something to aspire to, rather like buying "Fairtrade" goods, because a tenant would know that any profits from his tenancy were going directly to help others who need assistance with their housing.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At first sight, very laudable, but linking tenure to economic actvity will always be fraught with difficulties, including a huge admin burden as individual circumstances change - echoes of fixed term tenancies, etc. Also interesting that Sir Robin Wales, who lives in a large house in leafy Hertfordshire, should be laying down rules for residents in Newham. As with all political pronouncements there is a danger of hypocrisy, and this seems all too true in this case

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At first sight, very laudable, but linking tenure to economic actvity will always be fraught with difficulties, including a huge admin burden as individual circumstances change - echoes of fixed term tenancies, etc. Also interesting that Sir Robin Wales, who lives in a large house in leafy Hertfordshire, should be laying down rules for residents in Newham. As with all political pronouncements there is a danger of hypocrisy, and this seems all too true in this case

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chris

    Batman - is your argument undone at all by the fact that Mr Shapps lives in similar pile in Hertfordshire yet is laying down rules for residents across the country?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Arthur Brown

    The Tories want people to work for what they get. Any form of benefit is seen as a handout to the workshy.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Does it really matter where a leader of a local council lives, or what his or her financial circumstances are as to whether they should be applying their elected authorities mandate to determine how social housing is allocated.

    That said and Im sorry if this sounds draconian or anti pc, but why should those who are working for meagre salaries be consigned to having to spend nearly all their disposable income struggling in the private rental sector or forced to take on a heavy mortgage etc.

    Why does current social housing reward the work shy, those who are unemployed and in most cases unemployable who have no intention of ever working, never bothered to learn anything at school or make a better life for themselves for the future. Why does it reward careless young single Mothers many of whom deliberately get themselves pregnant in order to be rehoused and allow the tax payer to fund their selfish attitude for a life time.

    Yes social housing should be for the socially deprived poorer members of our society, but lets stop rewarding those who simply abuse the system and deprive others who have a need for social housing but are shoved at the bottom of the housing lists because they happen to have work and dont bring half a dozen assorted needlessly wanted children in to the World to get a council home and all the benefits that goes with it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Stephen West, I totally agree with you. There is a line between the can-not's and the will-not's. At the moment the will nots seem to get the best deal and still moan. Some generations of will-not families have lived in social housing and they are there to stay. In some instances they rule the estates and they choose who is rehoused there and who isnt otherwise they behave antisocially. I applaud the move to prioritise those who contribute to the economy or at least are making an effort to try.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Related

Articles

IH Subscription