A NEW scheme for allocating council homes has been agreed.

The scheme was approved at the latest meeting of Thurrock Council’s Cabinet, and follows the introduction of new legislation around social housing allocation.

The key changes mean the waiting list will no longer be open to everyone, just those who meet the new eligibility criteria, and the number of bands for bidding will be increased from three to five.

The criteria includes excluding people subject to immigration control, unless they have been granted leave to remain in the UK, and may also include excluding applicants with assets and or household income above certain levels, apart from pensioners and those awarded compensation while serving in the armed forces, or on disability living allowance.

Only applicants with a local connection to the borough will be allowed to apply, except those needing to move to the borough to escape domestic abuse.

And applicants who have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour, such as domestic violence, anti-social behaviour, or breaching a tenancy agreement, will be disqualified from joining the waiting list.

The council is under no legal obligation to change its current housing allocation scheme, which has been in force since 2005, but the Department for Communities and Local Government is recommending all councils do so in light of new legislation.

The cabinet heard that many other councils are introducing tighter rules, which could leave Thurrock open to picking up applicants spilling out of London and other boroughs, if it doesn’t follow suit.

Speaking about the new scheme, portfolio holder for housing, Val Morris-Cook, said: “There are some things we have had to do because the law says so.

“Some I’m not happy with, though there’s little we can do, and others are common sense.

“There are also other things which we are developing, innovative ideas that will help ease the housing crisis facing us.”

Cllr Morris-Cook said she was “not comfortable” with the “general needs caps” which limit the combined earnings and savings of potential tenants.
And that aspect of the scheme will be coming back to cabinet after further discussion.

Cllr Morris-Cook paid tribute to the cross-party working group who presented the basic report, and said the scheme would be examined regularly to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

Thurrock council owns just over 10,300 residential properties, and has nomination rights to another 1,000 registered provider properties.