Response - Fair and Flexible

By: Deborah Garvie  Published: October 2009

Shelter strongly supports the Government’s view that overall priority for social housing should go to those in the greatest housing need. Consequently, we welcome the statement in the Ministerial Foreword that the Government does not propose to change the ‘reasonable preference’ criteria which prioritises, amongst others, those with serious medical conditions, living in overcrowded conditions or having experienced homelessness.


We believe that the legislation and existing guidance already provide housing authorities with considerable flexibility in their allocations policies.  The statutory duty can be applied in many different ways and this is reflected in the myriad of points-based and banding schemes across the country.  Local housing authorities need the power to develop schemes that respond to local circumstances.  However, this should not be to the detriment of those in the greatest housing need.


We strongly supported the introduction of the existing guidance, particularly the Code on Choice Based Lettings, which was introduced only a year ago.  In particular, we welcomed the discouragement of schemes that rely too heavily on time waiting as opposed to housing need as a means of acquiring priority.


We are therefore very concerned that the consultation paper suggests that the Codes of Guidance on Allocations and Choice Based Lettings will no longer require housing authorities to have a mechanism to assess the housing need of households falling within the reasonable preference categories, and that authorities may wish to consider the scope for giving more weight to waiting time. 


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