CWAC proposes changes to housing list

David McCourt

Changes to the borough's housing waiting list have been agreed by Cheshire West & Chester Council's executive.

The council, in partnership with Chester & District Housing Trust, Weaver Vale Housing Trust, Plus Dane Group and Muir Group, has developed a new policy.

Currently there are around 19,000 names on the housing waiting list but it is thought around 9,000 to 10,000 do not have a housing need and will no longer be eligible to go onto the new list.

Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity told the meeting: "I believe here is a very positive way to review our policies, to amend them when we need to amend them, and to make sure that the people who want the houses are able to get them.

"On the housing waiting list there are people who may never qualify under the criteria for housing."

One of the most significant changes in the policy is the proposal to no longer register those without evidence housing is needed, unless they are over 55.

Another significant change is that people without a local connection will no longer be able to register for social housing in the borough. The only exception would be if an applicant could show a significant need.

Cllr Pamela Hall, chairman of a pre-decision scrutiny review of the new policy, suggested one of the recommendations of the all-party group was to ensure those people most vulnerable would receive support of the council and our partner organisations.

She said: "There are many people on the current list who because of the amount of their savings, current property value or earning they will never be able to demonstrate a housing need more than others and it is important the council sets appropriate expectations.

"As part of this process people will receive more support to make sure they understand, know how to apply for houses and will be contacted if they either are not applying for houses they are eligible for or no longer qualify for being part of the waiting list.

"We have also asked that appropriate mechanisms are explored to involve local councillors if people have been refused properties to see if there is anything else they can do to support residents.

"We wanted to increase priority for our looked after children on the new list and also help those trying to adopt or foster children.

"We will also be looking at this in six months time to check how the policy has been implemented and revised."

At present around 1,500 social and affordable homes become vacant and are re-let each year across Cheshire west.

Cllr Hall added: "Cheshire West & Chester needs more social housing to fulfil the requirements of all the applicants we currently have.

"It is absolutely key the council makes those people most vulnerable to be prioritised for a home and that all our residents on the list receive the right support and understanding from the Council and our partners to enable them to live in the right property for their needs. This is what this policy will provide."

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