Saturday, July 13, 2024

Agreement over new housing allocation scheme

THURROCK Council’s cabinet agreed a proposed new scheme for allocating council homes when it met on Wednesday (14 November) evening.

Portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Val Morris-Cook, said: “There are some things we have had to do because the law says so. Some I’m not happy with, though there’s little we can do, and others are common sense. There are also other things which we are developing, innovative ideas that will help ease the housing crisis facing us.”

Cllr Morris-Cook said she was “not comfortable” with the “general needs caps” which limit the combined earnings and savings of potential tenants. And that aspect of the scheme will be coming back to cabinet after further discussion.

Of the rest of the scheme, she said: “I am really pleased to see the issue of down-sizing is now taken into account. We are still looking at exactly what the benefits could be for moving out of a large home into a smaller, more suitable one, but one of them will be a ‘live rent free’ for specific time which we have yet to decide. Seems a simple idea doesn’t it, but it throws up all sorts of surprising issues.

“One of them is that at the moment there are 900 of our homes where the new welfare reform scheme will have an effect as they are deemed to have one bedroom too many to receive the current payment and a further 400 where there are two or more bedrooms too many! Something for us all to consider.

“Other points of interest include the need to have been a resident for five years to get on the housing list and that anti-social behaviour can prevent people going on the list – or even being thrown off.”

She said domestic abuse and violence against either sex will also now be able to be taken into account.

Cllr Morris-Cook added: “The mutual exchange system has been simplified with a quarter of voids available for people who simply wish to transfer and 15 per cent set aside for working families and I’m really pleased I brought the Veterans’ Charter motion to council calling for them to be included into the policy. That has happened and it will make a difference.”

She also paid tribute to the cross-party working group who presented the basic report “which I have re-jigged a little to meet the demands of today’s housing needs” and said the scheme would be examined regularly to ensure it remained fit for purpose.


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