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Council house views wanted
THE public are being asked to comment on proposals to change the way council housing is allocated in Swindon.
The Localism Act (2011) has given local authorities greater freedom to review their housing policies, allowing councils to ensure social housing goes to those who most deserve it.
As a result, Swindon Council is consulting on a new Housing Allocations Policy. There are 15,800 applicants for social housing in Swindon, and with only 850 properties available each year, the council needs to revise its policy to help meet the demand in the borough.
There are a number of proposed changes to the Housing Allocations Policy and these range from the eligibility criteria to property banding and the type of tenancy offered.
Under the changes, applicants who do not have a local connection to Swindon would no longer qualify to join the Housing Register, although an exception would be made for serving members of the Armed Forces or those who served in the last five years.
Existing homeowners would no longer be eligible to join the housing register, except for those over the state pension age who required sheltered housing.
The new policy would also exclude people from the housing register who have sufficient income to buy a suitable property. Applicants who do not pay their rent, fail to look after their property or cause a nuisance to neighbours would also be removed from the register under the new rules.
Coun Richard Hurley, the cabinet member for public protection, housing and Streetsmart (Delivery), said: “We simply do not have the resources to house everyone on the waiting list so we must take a fresh look at how we prioritise those in need.
“We have to ask: ‘If an applicant can afford to purchase their own home should the council be housing them?’
“I would really like to hear people’s views on the proposals before any changes are made to the existing policy.”
Swindon Tenants’ Campaign Group is calling on tenants and anybody concerned about the housing crisis to tell the council their views.
Group secretary Martin Wicks said: “Swindon Council is proposing to wipe 7,500 households off of the waiting list. This may make the situation look less bad but it will do nothing to address the housing crisis.
“The way to cut the housing waiting list is to build new council homes, not to kick these households off the list and pretend they have no housing need.
“The proposal to introduce fixed term tenancies for new tenants can only create uncertainty and insecurity in their lives.
“Even worse, the council is proposing that even when a tenancy is renewed they want the power to force people to move, against their wishes, into smaller properties which may be in a different area, forcing them to leave the community in which they are settled.”
The consultation will run until November 15.
People can give feedback by email to: email@example.com, write to: Swindon Homebid Team, Housing Services, Swindon Borough Council, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH or call 01793 445503.
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