H&F spells out housing policy

LB Hammersmith & Fulham is among the first councils to explain its plans to implement Government legislation ending council tenancies for life.

In the borough, any couple earning a joint annual salary of over £40,000 will no longer be entitled to a council house. The council is also proposing to give priority for council homes to foster parents, former Army personnel, special constables, those in work or training, and anyone with a historic connection to the borough, reports The Times.

Existing tenants will not be affected by the new proposals, with special arrangements to be given to older people and those with special health needs.

The council describe the changes as “a radical revolution in the way that social housing is allocated and tenancies granted …. aimed at rewarding hard working residents with a local connection to the borough, who make a positive contribution to the community”.

Hammersmith & Fulham has one of the highest proportions of social housing in London, with around 33 per cent social rented. That compares to a London average of 25 per cent and a West London average of 21.5 per cent. Just over two per cent of the borough’s housing is intermediate.

Highlights of the new proposals include: a new allocation scheme which seeks to prioritise local, working residents; fixed-term tenancies for new social housing lettings, although secure tenancies will still be available for the most vulnerable residents; breaking the link between a homelessness application and a social housing tenancy.

Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: “These proposals are about rewarding hard working families who are local to the borough. At the same time we will continue to house elderly people and others who are vulnerable.   We want to give people a hand up and not a hand out. We fundamentally believe that social housing should be a platform of aspiration which enables progression into other forms of housing, such as low cost home ownership, rather than a destination in its own right.

“If we are serious about building strong, mixed and sustainable communities that help drive economic growth and community cohesion, we need to prioritise people who contribute something to society when considering applications for council housing.”

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