Hammersmith & Fulham Council is to be the first local authority in the country to simultaneously introduce fixed term social housing tenancies and a maximum income cap for people wishing to access the housing register.
The changes will take effect from April 2013 alongide a number of other policies all of which seek to increase low-cost homeownership, tackle the social and economic divide in the borough and give a far greater priority for council housing to people who are making a community contribution.
Hammersmith has the fourth highest property prices in the UK and one of the highest proportions of social housing in London as a proportion of total housing, with around 34 per cent social rented, compared 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.
Under the new regulations, households with n income above £40,200 will not be able to access the housing register. Local, working residents, members of the armed forces and those who make a community contribution will have priority for social housing lettings.
All new tenancies will be five year fixed-term tenancies, with two years for those aged 18-25, and tenancies will no longer be able to be passed on to children. Secure tenancies will still be available for the most vulnerable residents.
The new measures which have been praised by the new Housing Minister, Mark Prisk MP, are due to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Monday, October 15. Highlights include:
Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing said: “Today we are leading the way in ushering in a new era for social housing in this country. We are saying that the current system, whereby anyone can apply for a council home irrespective of housing need, has failed. We believe that the notion of a tenancy for life is outdated and that it’s wrong to expect to inherit a welfare benefit in the form of a subsidised house irrespective of housing need.”
“Instead, we want to give honest, hard-working, local residents on low to middle incomes, who make a positive contribution to their local communities, the opportunity to access social housing.
“The old, antiquated system has created disadvantaged communities by producing concentrations of people on benefits with disproportionately high levels of unemployment and sometimes social breakdown.
“In its place, we want to create neighbourhoods where a broad mix of social households all live side-by-side.”
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: “Hammersmith & Fulham are taking firm action to ensure that their homes are reserved for those who genuinely need and deserve them the most.”
Cllr Johnson is among the speakers at Place West London on October 23. This is the one day conference and networking event for the west London sub-region. 300 delegates are expected from over 150 organisations. Book now!