Local people in the highest need of a home will be the focus of Thurrock Council’s new housing allocation policy, following the scheme’s first major overhaul for nearly 5 years.
Thurrock Council's Cabinet last night approved the revised housing allocation plan to ensure it reflects current housing pressures. Specific changes, following an extensive 2-stage public consultation, include:
- increasing the time applicants need to have lived in the borough from 5 to 6 years
- boosting the percentage of council housing reserved for working households or community-focused families to 20%
- increasing financial thresholds, particularly for 3-bedroom properties, to give more potential applicants access to affordable housing options
- allowing key workers in areas of shortage such as care and health moving to the borough for work to join the Housing Register through a new local connection qualification
- regularly reviewing bands 1 to 4, making sure people are still eligible.
Applicants will have a 12-month 'grace' period between when the new policy is anticipated to begin on 1 April 2019 and when it affects those already on the Housing Register.
During this 'grace' period, no further applications will be accepted into band 5 (where people are adequately housed) as this band will be removed from the plan within the next year. Current applicants in Band 5 can continue to bid on up to 2 properties weekly, but other affordable housing options will be established to meet requirements by April 2020. This includes a new sheltered housing register created in response to feedback from the housing overview and scrutiny committee.
Cllr Barry Johnson, portfolio holder for housing, said: "Everyone living in the borough should have fair access to housing, which is why we made sure to consult residents about these upcoming changes. We have also asked the overview and scrutiny committee to look further at the income thresholds to ensure we do not leave residents in a position where they earn too much to qualify for council housing but not enough to get private housing.
"These changes will ensure we support those who have the greatest need for housing."