Allocations overhaul to favour ‘responsible’ tenants
Westminster Council has unveiled a range of sanctions and rewards for social housing tenants and applicants as part of a new ‘vision’ for its public services.
The Conservative-run council has issued a consultation paper today to overhaul its housing allocation and management policies.
Under the proposed rules new unemployed tenants could be offered two-year fixed term tenancy agreements conditional on them seeking work.
Residents who volunteer or are involved in fostering or adoption would gain housing allocation points, while those who are involved in anti-social behaviour or who have children that truant would have points docked.
Rules on priority groups would also be extended to include special constables, nurses, and members of the armed forces.
Existing tenants could have their tenancy agreements amended to make it clear any criminal or anti-social behaviour could result in eviction, and the council is also looking at ways to increase rents for higher earning tenants.
Benefit claimants could be made to do community work if they are unemployed to retain payments, and council tax benefit could be reduced if claimants are involved in crime or anti-social behaviour.
The council is also proposing to charge full council tax on empty properties and second homes.
Westminster would use powers contained in the Localism Act to implement the changes. These give local authorities more freedom to set their own rules on allocations and tenancy management, although most of the policies suggested by Westminster are in line with central government thinking, and the borough is at the forefront of Conservative housing policy development.
Colin Barrow, leader of the council, said: ‘This is a radical new departure for the council. We want to ensure Westminster is the best place to live, work and play, but this requires changing the role of the council and how public services are delivered.’
The consultation, A civic contract for Westminster, has been launched today and is open until 10 February.