Saturday 26 April 2014

Social housing allocations

One of the common problems raised with councillors seems to be how social housing is allocated.

There's some general issues but some specific ones with housing in rural areas where the availability of private rented housing is limited and where there is a real need to give local people a chance to live in their communities to keep rural villages alive.

Following an earlier discussion I went to a workshop today to discuss the problems. The rural allocation policy used by Homefinder, the service run by the Council and the main providers of social housing in the county, is set by officials from these organisations is (in simplistic terms) as follows:
- people in housing need in the parish or neighbouring parishes
- people in housing need elsewhere
- people in the parish or neighbouring parishes
- everyone else.

This means that when new social housing is developed in local areas there is no guarantee that local people will be allocated housing, and this can be seen as unfair and divisive - and inhibits the maintenance of communities.

There's a number of potential solutions;

The process of allocations needs to be publicised and people need to get more confidence in the system;

People need to record their need even if it cannot be met initially;

If circumstances change it is always worth notifying Homefinder;

The policy needs to be reviewed to give more priority to a local connection;

Councillors should have more involvement in the prioritisation process.

We agreed that the policy would be reviewed, as a matter of urgency, and a further workshop would be held with members to discuss it. I hope that over a period of time this will improve things for people who need scarce housing.

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