At a Cabinet Meeting for Hammersmith and Fulham Council on Monday evening we will be considering a new Housing Allocation Policy. It has been written about this morning in The Times (£) and the Daily Telegraph.
The policy would not affect existing tenants.
The following section of the draft has attracted most interest:
Where an applicant(s) income (or combined income) are greater than £40,200 and may have assets and/or savings that are sufficient to access low cost home ownership or other intermediate housing options, then an applicant(s) will generally not be eligible to access the Housing Register and will offered advice on other housing options including joining the Council’s HomeBuy Register.
These income ranges will be reviewed annually and will be adjusted to reflect the size of household. Such households will be provided with advice and assistance which is likely to include private sector renting and low cost home ownership opportunities. Where applicants successfully access the HomeBuy Register, they may succeed in qualifying for an affordable rented opportunity under a Local Lettings Plan.
But another aspect of the policy is that those who make a "Community Contribution" will be given preference. This will apply for those who undertake voluntary work – for example serving as Special Constables. Foster carers and adopters will also have preference as will those who have served in the armed forces.
The contribution that working households make will be taken into account. For those who are not working the effort they are making to increase their employability will be taken in account. Are they undertaking a training course to learn a skill? Are those who don't speak English learning the language?
Those who had engaged in anti social behaviour would be penalised.
At the moment we only provide 15% of our homes to those in work.
Cllr Andrew Johnson, our Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“We want to incentivise residents to make the most of their lives. Council housing can be a great safety net to help get people back on their feet — but it should be a springboard not a destination. The current system does not promote personal aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home ownership and does not make the best use of the housing we have.”
We are being quick to take advantage of the new law allowing local flexibility on housing allocation. But, as The Times says, "the plans are likely to be mirrored by local authorities across the country."