The county council has made a number of changes to its policy regarding the allocation of council houses, some in response to the recent changes to housing benefit.
At Monday’s meeting of the executive, members agreed to a variety of changes to the Common Allocation Policy, which regulates how houses are allocated and who is eligible.
In accordance with statutory guidance, some people will no longer be eligible to join the housing register at all.
They are applicants with an annual household income or savings of £60,000 with no housing need, those who have no local connection to the county assessed as having no housing need, anyone with former rent arrears of £500 or five weeks or more, or any applicant with a history of anti-social behaviour.
Some of the other changes reflect the Government’s changes to benefit that came into effect this month such as the so-called bedroom tax, which will see housing benefit cut for those who are deemed to have one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms.
For example, the bedroom eligibility criteria will reflect that used to calculate housing benefit.
This means that one bedroom will be awarded to each: Person aged 16 or over; couple; pair of same-sex children under 16; pair of opposite sex children under 10; any additional child; non-resident carer providing overnight care.
At the other end of the spectrum, to avoid overcrowding, increased priority will be awarded to households with children who are living in separate homes due to the lack of suitable accommodation available, households with children currently living in one-bedroom accommodation and all transfer applicants who have been assessed as being overcrowded in one or two-bedroom homes.
In rural parishes, those with a local connection and need will still be priority, but those with the greatest need and no local connection will be prioritised over those who just have a local connection.
New legislation also requires that Forces personnel should be automatically granted a local connection and awarded additional preference if in urgent housing need.