Councils to stop people 'playing social housing system

The sense of injustice associated with the system for social housing is finally coming to an end.

That was the verdict of Housing Minister Grant Shapps as he annouced new allocations guidance published for consultation that would release councils and housing associations from the shackles of the current tick-box approach for allocating social homes.

The new freedoms will ensure councils and housing associations can reward achievement and encourage housing mobility – so scarce and precious social homes go to people who genuinely need and deserve them the most, such as hard working families and ex-servicemen and women.

At the same time, housing providers will be able to tackle the tenants who are able to work but do not take up opportunities for jobs.

Ministers believe that for too long there has been a sense of unfairness over who gets to live in social housing, with a common belief that tenancies only go to those who know how to play the system.

Several councils have already indicated they want to introduce a new flexible approach to manage allocations – Westminster, Southend and Manchester councils will prioritise those who show responsibility and make an effort to find work, and in Wandsworth those tenants on new flexible contracts who do not make an effort to find work will risk losing their tenancy.

Shapps said untying the hands of councils and housing associations will make sure social housing once again becomes a springboard for success, instead of a final destination where aspirations are permanently put on hold.

Shapps said: “For years the system for social housing has been associated with injustice – where rewards are reaped for those who know how to play the system the best. Despite this terrible image a lazy consensus in social housing has ensured that, for an entire generation, no one has bothered to do anything about it.

“That's why I have today published new guidance for councils that will release them from the one-size-fits all approach and give them genuine freedom to ensure people benefit from living in a social home when they need it, for as long as they need it.

“No longer will people who gain a council house be able to leave their aspiration and ambition at the door – instead, they will be helped to make a better life for themselves and their communities.

“These changes will not only ensure more people benefit from the privilege of living in a social home, it will also restore pride to social housing, so a social tenancy is no longer seen as a stagnant option for life, but a launch pad to fulfil aspirations.”