Consultation on proposed new statutory guidance to local housing authorities on the allocation of social housing, and proposed regulations designed to improve access to social housing for former and serving armed forces personnel. It is aimed primarily at local authorities. Housing associations, social housing tenants and waiting list applicants, as well as voluntary and community organisations representing tenants and applicants are also expected to have an interest. The consultation seeks views on the content of the new guidance and desirability and practicability of the proposed changes in the regulations, and runs from 5 January to 30 March 2012.
The Secretary of State is issuing this guidance to local housing authorities in England under s.169 of the Housing Act 1996. Housing authorities are required to have regard to this guidance in exercising their functions under Part 6 of the 1996 Act. In so far as this guidance comments on the law, it can only reflect the Department's understanding at the time of issue. This guidance replaces the November 2002 code of guidance on the allocation of accomodation; the August 2008 code of guidance on choice based lettings; circular 04/2009 on Housing allocations - members of the armed forces; and Fair and Flexible, the statutory guidance on social housing allocations issued in December 2009.
The Government contends that the Localism Act makes fundamental changes to the social housing system which will make the system fairer, striking a proper balance between the needs of new and existing tenants. Currently, many are trapped by their housing – lacking incentives to work, and often unable to move even if they want to. These reforms will enable councils and social landlords to make social housing a springboard to success.
It is important that councils and social landlords seize the opportunity which these changes offer to make the best use of this precious resource, so that more people benefit from a social home when they need it and for as long as they need it. This draft guidance points councils to the new and existing flexibilities within the allocation legislation which allow them to tailor local services to real local needs. The guidance makes clear that we expect social homes to go to people who genuinely need them, such as hard working families and ex-servicemen and women, and not to those who do not – such as people who already own a home that is suitable for them to use. It encourages councils to adopt a modern measure of overcrowding – so families in crowded housing will find it easier to move into more suitably sized homes. It encourages councils to prioritise tenants who want to downsize, helping those whose children have fled the nest to move to smaller, more manageable properties.
Through the Military Covenant, the Government has made clear its responsibility to support our armed forces in return for the important contribution they make to the country. That is why, alongside the guidance, we are consulting on new regulations which will bring an end to the unfair treatment of service families in need of a social home - ensuring they get the priority for social housing they deserve, and that those who have to move from base-to-base do not lose their qualification rights.