New housing policy will be fairer for all, say council chiefs

A SHAKE-UP in housing allocation policy will lead to a fairer system, say Woking Borough Council chiefs.

The new guidelines come into play on November 4 and follow a review of local authority schemes in 2012.

Last year, boroughs and districts across the UK were given the opportunity to review their allocation process and make changes to better manage their registers, tailoring their allocations to meet local needs and circumstances. Woking Borough Council approved its new framework following a decision by members at the full council meeting held in June.

Portfolio holder for housing, Councillor David Bittleston, said changes will address the 2,000 people on the current register as well as looking after the 100 new applications added to the list each month.

He said: “Although we are looking at ways of increasing our housing stock through proposed developments in Westfield and Sheerwater, we simply do not have enough social housing to meet demand now and in the future.

“By listening to the views of applicants and stakeholders through the consultation process, we have ensured that our new policy reflects both local housing priorities and changes in legislation.

“It will mean that not only will we prioritise the most vulnerable in housing need, but also reward those who have a local connection or are from the Armed Forces.”

From November 4 key changes to the council’s existing housing allocations policy include:

  • Removing the lowest priority band (F) from the housing register.
  • Applicants must now have a local connection of at least 12 months when applying, unless they are leaving the Armed Forces.
  • Applicants accepted for sheltered or supported housing will no longer be placed into band C and will instead be subject to individual assessment.
  • Applicants leaving specialist supported housing will no longer be placed into band C and will instead be subject to individual assessment.
  • Applicants with a joint household gross income of more than £50,000 (£30,000 per annum for single applicants), or with savings and/or assets of £30,000 or more (excluding pension pots) will not be able to register for housing.
  • Applicants with a child under 12 months old will be eligible for a one or two-bedroom property.
  • Households with dependants of the same sex must be 18 years old before they are eligible for a separate bedroom.

Cllr Bittleston added: “Changes to any policy will naturally have an affect to some degree on our service users. However, the council remain fully committed to housing the homeless and most vulnerable within our community.”

To enable council staff to begin the transition to the new policy, registration for Hometrak – the system used to determine the severity of an applicant’s need for housing – has been suspended.

However, all emergency housing applications will be dealt with as a priority. During this period, all outstanding Hometrak applications will be processed.

The Hometrak bidding cycle will continue as usual until October 22, when there will be a two-week suspension of the process.

A new Hometrak list will be published on November 5, when applications will be dealt with according to the revised policy.

For further information on the alterations to the council’s allocations policy, contact the housing options team on 01483 755855.

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