Last week I gave some examples of councils that were opposing giving housing preference to those who have served in the armed forces, who volunteer, or who are working or making a demonstrable effort to obtain work by taking a training course to increase their employability.
Now the good news. Several councils already have brought in policies to give preference to these groups and many more are planning to do so, or are at least considering the idea with an open mind.
I have not listed here those who said they would consider this approach, but added discouraging reservations, or those who responded entirely neutrally. Some of these will probably end up giving some kind of preference for the groups specified. Then there are councils (such as my own one of Hammersmith and Fulham, as well as Windsor and Maidenhead) who didn't bother to respond to the DCLG consultation but are still getting on with giving the preferences proposed. And, naturally, getting stuck into the detail will be important. We will have to watch out for councils that give some nominal, box ticking preference, but at such a modest level that it doesn't actually make any difference to who ends up getting a property.
Anyhow here are some of the more positive responses from Conservative councils:
- Cherwell District Council. "Policy regarding armed forces applicants will be given full consideration in our review… It is our intention to introduce some priority for applicants who are working over those who are not. We are also intending to provide the opportunity for applicants to gain additional priority by achieving a pre-tenancy accredited qualification."
- Chester West and Chester Council. "Members of the armed forces who will be discharged within three months are placed in band B…10% general needs lets are advertised as giving preference to applicants who are in employment education or training. The priority awarded will be reviewed. We will also consider whether to give enhanced priority for those making a community contribution."
- Swale Borough Council. "We will be considering giving priority to those who have served in the armed forces… We will be consulting on whether to prioritise those who can demonstrate a Community Contribution."
- Stratford-on-Avon District Council. "The encouragement of employment through the award of additional priority is welcome and this will be considered as part of the review of the allocations policy."
- Huntingdonshire District Council. "We intend to consider the flexibility to prioritise people who fall within these categories."
- Wokingham Borough Council. "MBC Members have expressed their wish to use these flexibilities."
- Westminster City Council. Agree with additional social housing preference for armed forces personnel. The council gives an additional 50 points for applicants who have been in work at least 16 hours a week for two years or more. Alternatively for those actively engaged with the Homelessness Employment Learning Project for two years or more there is also an additional 50 points.
- Havering Council. "Our revised proposals give priority to those applicants who work or contribute to the local community."
- Central Bedfordshire Council. "The council is currently giving favourable consideration to the use of these new flexibilities."
- Barnet Council. "From April 2011 we have given additional priority to people in housing need who also make a community contribution, such as they work or volunteer or are a foster carer (former service personnel is also a category here). Our criteria have been developed to reflect the contribution that can be made by some groups eg disabled people and young people. People are placed in Band 2, the second highest band, if their community contribution is evidenced. We worked with Community Barnet, Job Centre Plus, Barnet College and the Royal British Legion on developing this policy."
- Tendring District Council. "It is intended to revise our scheme so that households who have been in employment for at least 16 hours per week for a period of 12 months at the time of the application will be afforded additional preference."
- Bracknell Forest Council. "The Council's review of its allocation policy will contain proposals to prioritise those who are working or contributing to the community."
- Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. Agree that former servicemen should be given preference. Also: "We are considering giving preference to applicants who make a community contribution. This could include applicants in permanent work, volunteers and carers."
- Dartford Borough Council. "Yes we will look at how we could assist households in work or seeking work. It might be appropriate to consider whether there is an income threshold above which households do not qualify."
- Swindon Borough Council. "We may consider a policy where a percentage of voids is set aside for households in low paid work."
- Wealden Council. "Our policy contains a Community Contribution which gives preference to those in work, training or voluntary work on 20% of lets."
- Boston Council. "We intend to consider this as an option and agree with the principles."
- Broxbourne Borough Council. "Members have indicated that they would like to see the existing policy strengthened to reward work and to ensure sustainable communities."
- Wandsworth Council. "Since 2011 the Council has provided a small specific quota of lettings each year for allocation to members of the armed service and in fact have done our first allocation under that quota to an ex-Royal Marine in recent months…The Council is intending to revise, review, formulate, consult and adopt a significantly revised housing allocation scheme with effect from later this year, probably with effect from November 2012. Within that the Council does intend to provide greater priority for working households, or those seeking work, or those for whom an allocation would assist them in retaining or finding work."
I am delighted that some Labour councils have also given positive responses. They include Slough, Newham ("encouraging residents to emphasis their efforts and abilities"), Rotherham, Southwark, Middlesbrough, Ashfield, Ealing, Chorley and Manchester.