Rules on who can get social housing in Shropshire set to be tightened

Rules are being tightened on who can get social and affordable housing in Shropshire.

Shropshire Council has launched a consultation on changes to its Housing Allocations Policy (HomePoint) - including denying access to those it deems to have "sufficient income".

Households with an income of £50,000 gross per annum, or savings and assets, including equity in a property, of more than £200,000, would not qualify to be on the housing register.

Those people are deemed to have enough money to purchase or rent market-priced housing within Shropshire which is suitable for their needs.

Shropshire Council says its changes are to "ensure that applicants in the greatest need are allocated social and affordable housing".

At the same time it is proposing to increase the number of bands contained in the policy from four to seven, to "ensure people’s housing needs are better managed within the policy".

They are also proposing to introduce a local connection rule. To qualify, applicants must have been living in Shropshire for the last year or more, have close family living in Shropshire or be employed in Shropshire.

There are statutory exceptions to that rule. Members of the Armed Forces, ex-service personnel, existing social tenants moving to employment in Shropshire, and persons who need to move from another council area to escape domestic abuse or other forms of violence or harm, will automatically qualify to be on the housing register.

Shropshire Council is asking for views from local organisations and residents on the proposed changes to the criteria used to allocate social and affordable housing to people who live and work in Shropshire.

Following the changes to the draft policy, those who may no longer qualify to be on the housing register, on the basis of not having a local connection, will be notified and advised on their right to appeal.

The draft policy will also introduce formal nominations agreements with housing associations operating in Shropshire. This will ensure that applicants in the greatest housing need are allocated social and affordable housing.

Councillor Simon Jones, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “As a council we have a statutory duty to ensure those with the greatest needs have access to social and affordable housing.

"Whether that is through allocations to council housing managed by our own ALMO [arms-length management organisation], Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing (STAR Housing), or through nominations to housing associations.

“The revised policy also aims to prevent and tackle homelessness; promote independent living and reduce admissions to residential care; and enable key workers on low incomes to access affordable housing.

“Increasing the number of bands contained in the policy will allow for greater differentiation in prioritising categories of applicants who are required to be given priority under housing legislation.

“It will also recognise the needs of those applicants who may not be in a priority group recognised by legislation, but are still in housing need, for example, key workers in low-paid employment."

Mr Jones added: “I encourage everyone who may be affected by this policy to take the time to comment on the new proposals. This proposed draft policy will provide us with a much fairer and more sustainable approach to housing provision in Shropshire.”

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