John Healey has today given councils more flexibility in how they
manage their waiting lists. He also called on councils to do more
to tackle the myths and misunderstandings about housing waiting
lists, so local people can have confidence that the system is fair.
Published today, new statutory guidance makes clear that those in
greatest housing need must be given priority. But it also gives
councils more freedom to allocate their homes according to needs
specific to their local area.
Councils have said they will use this extra flexibility to
prioritise families with local connections, those seeking local
employment and to tackle overcrowding and under-occupation in
Manchester City Council, who are planning to prioritise those
who are working, volunteering or taking up training and
educational opportunities;The London Borough of Newham, who plan
to use revised allocation policies to tackle
overcrowding;Bournemouth Borough Council, who plan to use the
flexibilities to reduce the number of under-occupied homes;
andTest Valley Borough Council, who are looking at the possibility
of setting a quota for a proportion of their housing stock to be
available to those with a connection to the local area.
The guidance also gives councils the responsibility to tackle the
myths and misunderstanding surrounding allocations. Councils will
be expected to consult their local communities on changes to their
allocation policies, and inform local people about who is getting
housing, ensuring allocation policies are better understood and
have greater local legitimacy.
John Healey said:
"People must be given confidence that council homes in
their area are allocated fairly. Councils must make sure people
can see more clearly how homes are being allocated in their area.
"I'm giving councils greater leeway to do this.
While priority will still be given to those in greatest housing
need, they will now also be able to allocate according to needs
specific to their local area.
"And with these greater freedoms, I expect councils to
take greater responsibility in consulting with their communities,
and explaining their allocation policies, to combat the myths and
misunderstandings that often develop around council
Today's announcement is part of the Government’s Housing
Pledge to improve access to housing.
Earlier this week, Mr Healey launched the first-ever national
crackdown on tenancy cheats, to recover up to 10,000 council and
housing association homes from fraudulent subletting over this and
next year, and release them to those in real need.
Since June, he has given the green light to £141million funding
which, when match-funded by councils, is expected to build over
2,000 council homes and safeguard around 5,000 jobs, as part of
the largest council house-building programme for nearly two
decades – with a further £180m to follow.
And he has launched plans to dismantle the current council
housing finance system and replace it with a clearer, more
transparent system. Under the revised system, councils will
finance their business through their own rents and revenue, in
exchange for a one-off allocation of housing debt.
Notes to Editors
1. Other examples of how councils have said they propose to use
this extra flexibility include:
Sheffield City Council, who plan to examine how they can use
their allocation policies to improve access to employment
opportunities;Gateshead Council, who are providing support for
people in work or seeking work by introducing a policy to offer
housing to key workers;Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, who
are considering how they will use these flexibilities to tackle
under and over-occupation of their housing, and meeting disabled
peoples’ needs; andSouth Derbyshire District Council, who are
examining how they can use their local lettings policies to ensure
more mixed communities.
2. Examples of how councils are consulting and informing
residents about the way they manage their council house waiting
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, which used residents
surveys as part of a review of its Choice Based Lettings policy;
Sunderland City Council, which held online surveys of both
members of the public and staff, and held consultations with
housing associations and voluntary sector representatives in the
area while drawing up their allocation scheme
3. Fair and flexible: Statutory guidance on social housing
allocations for local authorities in England, guidance for
councils on housing allocations, is published today and can be
4. On Monday 30 November, John Healey launched the first-ever
national crackdown on tenancy cheats. Details can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1397396
5. On 29 September, John Healey announced the second round of
funding for the largest council house-building programme for
nearly two decades. Details can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1346486
6. On 21 July, John Healey announced plans to overhaul the system
of council housing finance. Details can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1291446
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