Published on Sunday, 20th April 2014

Until very recently the rules on the allocation of social housing were effectively set nationally. Central government defined large classes of people as either under-housed or homeless and it required local authorities to prioritise them in the system. Since this created a situation of more applicants than available properties, it meant that no-one else had any chance of being housed, although many local authorities still put these other applicants on their waiting list, even though they knew full well that none of them would ever be housed.

This has now changed. While council and housing association housing still remains in short supply, councils have much greater flexibility over how their stock is allocated. There are still limits of course – really there have to be – but councils can now include other criteria in allocating housing. For example some areas have rules about anti-social behaviour, some reserve a proportion of their properties for people in work and some are considering giving extra points to those who do voluntary work. One reform that has the potential to save a lot of money is making housing available to foster families, although as far as I know no authority has done this yet.


The other variable is the local connection rule. Most councils have one, although in some areas it is only vaguely defined. Many others though require a fixed minimum residency in the borough, which inPortsmouth’s case is set at two years: most councils have settled on five, which seems a fair compromise between housing need and local connections.

Tags : Housing