Date Published 15 May 2012
The private rented sector is poised for growth after one council announced that couples earning over £40,000 a year will no longer be eligible for a council house.
Other local authorities are set to follow Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s landmark announcement, which goes much further than housing minister Grant Shapps’ suggestion last year that people earning over £100,000 should not get a council home.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council is also proposing to give priority to foster parents, ex-services personnel and special constables, together with people in work or training, and those with a local connection.
The council is one of the first to spell out how it plans to implement the Government’s legislation that ends tenancies for life and gives local authorities more flexibility to deal with waiting lists.
The laws, which came into effect last month, stop the practice of allowing those on high incomes to stay in council homes for life and pass them on to their children – but do not set income caps.
H&F’s proposals are likely to be mirrored by councils all over the country as they struggle with a national waiting list of 4m people.
H&F itself has 14,000 council properties but only 500 new places each year and 10,000 people on the waiting list.
??Andrew Johnson, head of housing, said that in future, half of council house allocation every year would go to people in jobs or training or to the special priority groups. At the moment the authority allocates just 15% of its homes to those in work.??
He said: `We have decided to prioritise foster parents, as many people say they cannot take in children because housing is so expensive. If we can do anything to help vulnerable children in care it will be worth it. If we can make more foster places available it will also be a saving on our residential costs.`??
The council has also decided to supply council homes for former Army personnel and special constables because of the ‘dangerous nature of the work they do’.??
Johnson said: `We want to incentivise residents to make the most of their lives.
`Council housing can be a great safety net to help get people back on their feet – but it should be a springboard, not a destination.
`The current system does not promote personal aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home ownership and does not make the best use of the housing we have.`