Council waiting lists to be more flexible

Michael Hunt

Councils in the North West are being given more flexibility in how each manages its housing waiting lists, following a new report announced by Housing Minister John Healey.

New statutory guidance published today makes clear that those in greatest housing need must be given priority. However, the new report also gives councils more freedom to allocate its homes according to needs specific to their local area.

For example, Manchester City Council is planning to prioritise those who are working, volunteering or taking up training and educational opportunities.

Councils will be expected to consult its local communities on changes to the allocation policies, and inform local people about who is getting housing, ensuring allocation policies are better understood and have greater local legitimacy.

The announcement is part of the Government's pledge to improve access to housing.

Earlier this week, Minister Healey launched the first-ever national crackdown on tenancy cheats, to recover up to 10,000 council and housing association homes from fraudulent subletting over this and next year, and release them to those in real need.

Since June, he has given the green light to £141m of funding which, when match-funded by councils, is expected to build over 2,000 council homes and safeguard around 5,000 jobs, as part of the largest council house building programme for nearly two decades, with a further £180m to follow.

He has launched plans to dismantle the current council housing finance system and replace it with a clearer, more transparent system. Under the revised system, councils will finance business through its own rents and revenue, in exchange for a one-off allocation of housing debt.

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