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Council prioritises housing for workers, volunteers, fosterers and ex-armed forces

Amendments to the way in which Waltham Forest Council allocates social housing in the borough were agreed earlier today (17 March) at the Council’s Cabinet Meeting.



The Housing Allocations Scheme sets out how the Council prioritises housing applicants and how they allocate social housing in the borough. It was refined a couple of years ago in the wake of the Localism Act, which gave local authorities greater flexibility.


In this latest move the Council has given local people a greater chance of being housed and given extra priority to local people who are either contributing to the local economy or to society by either being in employment, a volunteering role or are a foster carer. Those in training that will lead to employment and those who have previously served  in the armed forces are also being given extra housing priority.


Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing, said, “The changes mean that we can use housing to improve people’s lives by ensuring that we continue to focus on those in greatest need, while at the same time encouraging people to improve their circumstances.


“We’ve refined the system to make sure that it provides realistic options to residents. The last time we made changes the Housing Register reduced from over 26,000 to around 16,600 as the result of the removal of non-bidders, no preference cases, and those not meeting the residency requirement.


“This time we have further restricted eligibility for people based on residency, upping the criteria from those who have lived in the borough for two years to four years. We’ve also awarded extra priority to applicants who are making a ‘Community Contribution’ by working, volunteering, fostering, or who were previously in the armed forces or are in training which will lead to employment.”


Other changes include amending the bedroom size rules so that two children of the same gender up to and including the age of 21 can be expected to share a bedroom before incurring priority for overcrowding. Currently the criteria is up to and including the age of 16.


The Council will also simplify the banding system so that there is no longer a points range within each priority band. There will no longer be priority given to applicants whose only housing problem is sharing facilities with people outside their own household (including relatives).


The changes will also make it easier for existing tenants to move by introducing an increase in the use of ‘transfer-led lettings’. This will mean that more properties will be initially offered to current social housing tenants, which will allow an increase in the total number of lettings available.


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