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Queue jumpers and well-off face ban as part of council housing shake-up
QUEUE jumpers and the well-off could be banned from the borough council’s housing list as part of a major shake-up of the rules.
If the new ideas are accepted, local people will be given higher priority for social housing in Basingstoke and Deane. Those who do not have jobs in the borough or family links may not be allowed to apply.
Residents are being asked to give their views on the plans which may also bar people who:
* Already own property
* Who earn more than a certain amount of money
* Who have a history of serious bad behaviour
* Who have more than £30,000 in savings
* Who deliberately make their circumstances worse to jump up the list for social housing.
The proposals come in the wake of the Localism Act 2011, which means councils no longer need to accept all-comers to their housing lists.
Some local authorities have already introduced much tighter criteria for social housing.
Chiefs at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council say there are 7,000 names on the current waiting list, but less than 4000 of them ever bid for housing association properties for which they are eligible.
There are also are a large number of priority 'bands' to navigate and bosses are proposing to reduce the number to make application less complicated. Applications would be registered in date order, with exceptions for emergencies.
Cabinet Member for housing and regeneration Cllr Rob Golding said: “It's all about fairness.We think we should do all we reasonably can to make the scheme as fair as possible.”
He said of queue jumpers: "It might be someone who deliberately moves into somewhere too small so as to be overcrowded or deliberately moves into somewhere that was not up to a legal standard so that they need re-housing because they are somewhere that is unhealthy.
"If we can find a way of discouraging that and being fairer to the people who play by the rules we would consider that."
He added: “We have a unique chance to rethink the system to make it more transparent.”
The borough council is seeking residents' opinions in an online questionnaire that asks how a social housing applicant's local connection should be established. It says: “What would be a reasonable period of time living in Basingstoke and Deane that would mean an applicant had a strong connection?” The optional answers offered are three years, five, seven or “other”.
The survey also asks whether applicants with a history of bad behaviour such as serious domestic violence, racial harassment or big rent arrears should be banned until they can prove they have “reformed their behaviour”. It suggests that queue-jumpers should be excluded for 12 months before being allowed to re-apply.
And it asks residents for their ideas of how much money a household should earn before it is not eligible for social housing in the borough.
It also proposes barring people who work in Basingstoke and Deane but do not live here.
To have your say visit www.basingstoke.gov.uk/go/housinglist.
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