Shake up to rules for council homes
WITH more than 15,000 people trying to rent a council home in Swindon, actually being handed the keys for a property has turned into quite an exclusive occurrence.
But if council bosses give the green light from a new policy to be adopted at a cabinet meeting then anyone in training, education or employment will be able to jump the queue ahead of those who are not.
Under the new housing allocations policy, which was sent out for public consultation between October 21 to November 15, all those living in Band C homes will also be wiped off the council’s waiting list.
Another shake up of the rules will see people only being offered fixed term tenancies, between five to 10 years compared to the current lifetime contracts.
This is expected to knock the unmanageable figure of approximately 15,000 people waiting for a home down to around 7,000.
But tenants groups are not happy and say this is just the council’s attempt to manipulate the statistics.
Chair of Swindon Tenants Campaign Group Brian Shakespeare said he believed people will stop feeling house proud if they only had fixed terms.
“No one will want to take care of their homes if they think they only have them for a little while,” said Brian, 73.
“And that’s not to mention the impact it could have on children’s schools. Cutting people from Band C is just a way for the council to manipulate the figures. Council housing should be open to everyone. The council needs to start building more homes.”
Cabinet member for public protection, housing and Streetsmart, Richard Hurley, said measures had to be taken to cut numbers on waiting lists to speed things up for people who “really need and deserve” a home.
He said: “This will ensure that tenants will get the very best use of our scarce housing stock.
“At the moment the list is full of people who shouldn’t be there, people who can probably afford to buy their own homes anyway.”
It is also understood that the average time a tenant stays in their council home is between seven to 10 years.
In a council report, it is stated adopting the new allocation will cost the authority around £50,000 to further develop its Choice Based Letting IT systems.
And the number of empty properties is anticipated to increase during the earlier stages.
This is due to the removal of applicants not in a reasonable preference group who would previously have bid for these properties.
The policy will be debated at the council’s Civic Offices on Wednesday at 6pm.
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