It is hoped that the changes, which introduce a much tighter set of criteria for those seeking housing in Thanet, will ensure that those in the most housing need are supported and prioritised appropriately.
At a meeting last night (Thursday 11 July) Council members agreed to nine key changes:
- Closing the housing register to households outside of the Thanet district;
- Introducing a residency criteria – which means that those looking to apply for housing must have lived in Thanet for a minimum period of three years;
- Introducing tighter guidelines when assessing unacceptable behaviour – this would consider exclusion from the housing register for those who have been guilty of rent arrears, breach of tenancy agreements, causing a nuisance to neighbours etc;
- Providing additional bedrooms for families with two children of the opposite sex where the eldest is over ten years in line with Housing Benefit criteria (at present this is over eight years old);
- Introducing tighter guidelines on additional bedroom requests for carers;
- Re-categorising the priority housing bands to ensure those most in need are prioritised;
- Prioritising Armed Forces personnel;
- Introducing tighter guidelines on dealing with households who owe current or former tenancy debts;
- Providing new clarification on income, savings and assets – which will introduce a cap on assets and savings to the value of £16,000 and will exclude applicants where any member of the household is earning a salary which places them in the higher-rate tax bracket.
The changes to the policy will come into effect from 1 September 2013. From this date, everyone looking to apply for social housing will need to meet the council’s new stricter criteria.
Registration for housing will move online from this date to ensure that customers can apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Existing applicants on the housing register will also need to re-apply online. The Housing Options team will be working hard to support local people through this transition.
Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr David Green, said: “With nearly 6,500 households on the housing register in Thanet, and insufficient housing to offer, we clearly needed to take radical action. Tightening up the criteria to apply for housing and re-categorising the housing bands will ensure that we prioritise the people who most need our help and manage our housing stock more effectively.
“The new allocation policy provides us with the tools to ensure that those that have other housing options available to them are not taking advantage of a system which is in place to help those who most need it. We will be doing all we can to ensure that new and existing customers are aware of the changes and to help them through this transition.
"Tackling the area's housing needs is a major priority for the council. We have a number of proposals to do this, but first we must ensure that our housing waiting list truly represents the housing need amongst local Thanet residents."
Find out more about the new Allocation Policy at www.thanet.gov.uk