5,400 could lose place on housing list

new homes New council houses opened in Kings Heath in 2011 were the first built in Northampton for 20 years
new homes New council houses opened in Kings Heath in 2011 were the first built in Northampton for 20 years

Major changes to council housing policy are being proposed which would see 5,400 people taken off the waiting list for homes.

Under the new plans, priority would be given to people in severe need, people with a local connection, people leaving the Armed Forces and people working or seeking work.

People with lesser needs would be removed from the list.

The proposals will be discussed at a Northampton Borough Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday, December 12.

Under the current allocations policy, applicants are either placed in an emergency group or into one of four priority bands, A to D.

The changes proposed include removing bands C and D, which consist of tenants who joined the waiting list with no specific or immediate need and would not receive a property until their needs changed.

It follows a consultation with tenants and people on the housing register, where respondents were broadly supportive of the plans. But 43 per cent disagreed with the proposal to remove band C and D customers.

Councillor Mary Markham (Con, Obelisk), cabinet member for housing said: “The number of people in housing need continues to grow and councils are being challenged to make the best used of the social housing which is available.

“The Localism Act also enables councils to make changes to how homes are let and introduce a system which better reflects local circumstances.

“At cabinet we’ll be discussing the local housing issues, the proposed changes and the views of local people gathered in the consultation.”

The meeting will also hear about proposed changes to the tenancy strategy, which looks at ways to ensure housing is used in the best way, helping people who have the greatest need.

The changes proposed would see the introduction of flexible tenancies, which means that not all new tenants would be given a lifetime tenancy. Instead flexible tenancies could be offered for a minimum of five years.

The cabinet meeting takes place in the Jeffrey Room at the Guildhall at 6pm.

The borough council’s former cabinet member for housing was realistic about the changes being proposed.

Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib, Kingsthorpe) said: “The problem is because of the right to buy scheme. We haven’t replaced the stock we have lost over the years. We are down to 12,000 properties and we will not be able to home people in bands C and D.

“The Government does not have a big build programme at the moment. It is very disappointing for people in bands C and D, but at least they know where they stand and it doesn’t give them false hope.

“Until the Government does release the money to build houses, we will be struggling for a few years. But it doesn’t mean we will not help people get houses.”