'Deserving' families to get council housing priority

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NeuralgicNeurotic

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"'Deserving' families to get council housing priority

Homeless families will be rehoused to free up social homes for ex-servicemen and people who volunteer

   
Patrick Butler, social policy editor
The Guardian, Friday 9 November 2012 19.58 GMT   



Working families, ex-servicemen and people who volunteer will get priority in council housing lists over those who are homeless or destitute under new Whitehall plans.

Vulnerable homeless families will be rehoused in the private rented sector, often many miles from where they live, to free up social homes for so-called "priority" households, according to a government document presented to councils this week and seen by the Guardian.

The government is privately urging councils to adopt housing allocation policies that favour "deserving" families, alongside draconian powers that in effect remove the long-established obligation on councils to provide a social-rented property to homeless families.

The move, which comes as local authorities anticipate a huge wave of families presenting as homeless as a result of welfare reforms, is likely to accelerate the process by which poorer families in the private rented sector who are made homeless are shifted from expensive areas such as London to cheaper areas of the UK.

A briefing to council officials this month by Andy Gale, a homelessness adviser to the Department for Communities and Local Government, said local authorities that adopted the new homeless powers in full would have to undergo a procurement exercise to ensure they had plentiful private rented sector accommodation available to homeless families. "For some authorities in London, this may inevitably mean looking for accommodation outside of their area," it said.

The paper advises local managers how to persuade local councillors to adopt the new homelessness powers, some of whom it suggests may be reluctant to use them. It urges officials to "avoid as far as possible the risk of the changes being used politically, leading to statements such as 'Isn't this all about cuts and welfare reform?' ... [and] 'Surely the homeless are in the greatest housing need?'"

Gale said the changes needed to be "sold" to members as a "strategic package" that would enable them to build "sustainable social housing communities" and urges officials to impress upon councillors that the powers prevented people playing the system by pretending to be homeless in order to get on a fast track to social housing.

It states "By breaking the link between homelessness and social housing many households (especially those living with parents and relatives where homelessness may be seen as the way to obtain social housing), will no longer apply as homeless. Many will remain living with parents and extended family."

The paper makes it clear that the hurdles applicants will have to jump though to get social housing are so high that most will accept the first offer of private rented accomodation. "The overall conclusion of introducing this framework is inevitably that new statutory homelessness applications will become minimal."

Pregnant women and families with children, or vulnerable individuals such as care leavers or people with severe health problems who are accepted as homeless currently go to the top of the local queue for social housing. But local authorities now have powers to redraw allocation priorities in order to give priority to "groups who make a special contribution".

The paper prepared by Gale says these these priority groups might include:

Low-income households who are in employment.

People who are in training or who volunteer in the local community.

Potential tenants who are "prepared to undertake a training course on how to be a good tenant".

People with no history of rental arrears and who can demonstrate "good behaviour".

Ex-armed forces personnel.

The paper accepts that councils that discharge their homelessness duties in the private sector in distant towns are likely to face legal action from tenants who will argue that placing them outside their local area is not "suitable". Although ministers have said that such a move would be "unfair and wrong", the paper drawn up by Gale advises councils how to ensure out-of-borough placements can be framed to avoid legal challenge.

Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: "Now that homeless households no longer automatically qualify for social housing, we're really concerned that those who need it the most will lose out. But with such a shortage of decent, affordable private rented housing particularly in London homeless families will have to make a choice between being moved miles away or squeezing into overcrowded or run-down accommodation to stay in their area."Ministers, and local authorities adopting the policy, are likely to portray the change as one that frees up social housing for poor working families who can no longer afford to get on the property ladder, and more controversially, as a way to stop people trying to jump to the top of the council housing list by declaring themselves as homeless.

But critics have condemned the move as taking essential welfare resources away from the most needy and vulnerable and returning Britain to a pre-Cathy Come Home model of social housing provision in which local officials decide which families deserve to be given affordable homes.

New powers to enable councils to place households accepted as homeless in "suitable" and "affordable" private rented accommodation came into force on Friday. In expensive areas with long social housing lists, like London, this will mean families being housed outside their borough, and often outside the capital.

Ministers have publicly condemned councils for rehousing vulnerable families miles away from where they were settled. But privately officials accept that benefit caps and soaring rents, coupled with the new homelessness guidance, will give councils in high-cost housing areas little option but to relocate households out of their home borough."


For anyone who hasn't seen 'Cathy Come Home' it can be found on You Tube. Be warned, it's not exactly cheery viewing.

Otter

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if this was a joke it would be funny

there is no spare acommodation anywhere

KizzyKazaer

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And what happens when there is an overlap between who is deemed 'deserving' and who is not?

What if one of the favoured groups has committed a criminal offence, for instance?  Being a working person or an ex-serviceman or any other of those categories doesn't necessarily mean automatic wings and a halo.  Someone may well have always paid their rent but what if it was from ill-gotten gains? What if a member of this 'housing list elite' is an alcoholic or a drug addict (currently under fire from the Government regarding benefits - but it's worth pointing out that these people are not always in receipt of benefits, are they?).  Does their elevated status get removed until they reform their behaviour?  Of course, being street homeless or shunted round tatty 'DSS welcome' so-called B & B's will really help them, won't it  >erm<

Just too many variables and inconsistency potential.  Bloody silly, I call it.

>gets off soapbox<



Dic Penderyn

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Kizzy keep hold of that soapbox you may need it soon.
Be careful in what you wish for, God has a sense of humour

auntieCtheM

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It is these categories - you may be a good payer of rent until you become unemployed.  You may be a model family, but have a child who is a criminal.  Now you are homeless but 2 years ago you had  the 'perfect lifestyle'.

People are not necessarily permanently a criminal, homeless, an addict, on benefits etc. !!

Not everyone falls into a neat and tidy group. 

devine63

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and what about families which contain a mixture of people?  (apologies for the stereotyping)  Mum & kids might be "deserving" whilst Dad is an alcoholic ...    Or a veteran may come home to find that the stress has caused his loving wife to become addicted to amphetamines (commonly used as a slimming drug) and the children remain deserving.....
regards, Deb

Hurtyback

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It can be difficult to volunteer for community activities when every moment is spent trying to keep one's head above water . That does not mean that the person concerned has no thought for others, just that their current situation does not support voluntary activites.

Prabhakari

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I know what to do (not really).

Rent disused railway bridges. Put up a canvas screen at each end. Instant shelters.
Allow shanty towns to be built, just as there are in poor countries. We must be poor. Goes to show, dunnit.
Build tatty tower blocks again, as tall as possible. Without any lifts of course. Everyone knows that plebs need to exercise.
Does the army have old tents in stock? Issue one each to a homeless family.
Make use of unused, large-bore concrete pipes. They can make great shelters.

Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.

oldtone27

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Don't give them ideas.

Prabhakari

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I know that this is revolutionary thinking, but . . . . . . how about prefabs? Housing after the war.
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.

oldtone27

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Prefabs were a very good idea, but they take up quite a lot of land and that is the main problem with new housing. After the war there were bomb sites which could be cleared to make room.

Nowadays urban areas are crowded unless one builds on industrial land which is often contaminated making it expensive so developers won't touch without subsidy.

Local authorities won't build and government couldn't organise a piss up let alone a housing development.

Rural folk who populate the councils areas don't want their fields built on so only a few houses get built and because they are scarce are too expensive for most folk, only those who can afford second homes.

We need fewer people, hence the government policy to surreptitiously cull the non-productive (their definition) populace. >whistle<

Richard_D

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"It states "By breaking the link between homelessness and social housing many households (especially those living with parents and relatives where homelessness may be seen as the way to obtain social housing), will no longer apply as homeless. Many will remain living with parents and extended family."

What about people who currently live under the tenancy of someone else and aren't allowed to have joint tenancy. What is going to happen to those people if the person they are living with either dies or a situation arises where it becomes unsuitable for the person to allow the other person to live with them under their tenancy?

Will it just be assumed that the person living under the other person's tenancy will have the money and opportunity to just find a studio or one bedroom place within an affordable distance (cost of moving to new location) and in a fair and affordable (affordable private renting costs) within a short space of time?

Living under someone else's tenancy just means that you are an addition to their household, which only gives you temporary security and not long-term for the future.

Aren't there already enough people who are homeless without creating a situation where people who are in a situation that could easily become homeless if the worse was to happen thus creating the potential to add to the existing homeless who are seeking accommodation?

Wouldn't it be better to try and prevent homelessness instead of just dealing with new cases alongside the existing ones?
July 2017- Autism Spectrum Condition.

Otter

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this isn't just a rouse to get flats/houses vacated so that the government can sell them on, is it?

the cynic in me thinks it might be

the land these places are on must be worth quite a bit

devine63

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"It states "By breaking the link between homelessness and social housing many households (especially those living with parents and relatives where homelessness may be seen as the way to obtain social housing), will no longer apply as homeless. Many will remain living with parents and extended family."

What about people who currently live under the tenancy of someone else and aren't allowed to have joint tenancy. What is going to happen to those people if the person they are living with either dies or a situation arises where it becomes unsuitable for the person to allow the other person to live with them under their tenancy?



this is simply not realistic.   For example:    Age 17 I was living in my mother's house with a 3 month old baby; it was not a big house and my 3 siblings all still lived there.  The baby and I had to share with my 15 year old sister, she was studying for her O levels and had exams coming up, the baby was hardly sleeping at all - so neither were we.   The room had just enough room for 2 single beds, there was no room for a cot for the baby...   does anyone think I could realistically have stayed there any longer?    My mother "threw me out" and the council found us a place in a hostel for single parents, where at least baby and I had a room to ourselves; they said a flat should become available within 6 months - it was actually 18 months, I still thought it was worth it.  I never missed a rent payment and eventually once I was working we got further help from a Cash Assisted Purchase Scheme and bought our own home.   Not everybody has a mummy and daddy who can afford a large house with empty bedrooms ...

regards, Deb


bubble

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We livied with my Nan when we got married. Most people lived with family at first, so there would be only a few to house if their family had thrown them out.
I think what upset me was, we struggled to get money together to try and buy as we would have waited for yrs for a council house.  Other people who were with a partner, but didnt say, would have a house from council then move partner in, often claiming he wasnt there. They had spare money  to look after themselves hair cuts, clothes etc, while the rest of us struggled, with  a baby on the way mortgage up to our neck and no spare cash.

Then the people in council house had the right to buy, the council did all the house up before they bought too at a much lower cost.

Our house was really needing things doing but we couldnt afford to do it up.

I know all this sounds like sour grapes................  but I basically felt a fool for trying to do the right thing at the time.

As yrs went on and mine and hubbys health failed, we havent been able to provide much for our retirement, still in the same house with things needing work but it just wont get done.  We now have the worry of if ever needing care the house will be taken off us. Im finding it difficult as we have steps, but cant afford to move I will become housebound.

Other family bought under the right to buy and I think it was a good thing so Im not against that.
I sound like a right moany sorry. >doh<