The review comes as a result of a change in the law which gives councils more freedom to decide how they manage their housing register.
In Herefordshire, where demand is very high, anyone can apply for affordable housing. There are nearly 5,000 people on the housing register with approximately 19 properties available each week. The council has therefore decided to review how to prioritise who can access affordable housing in a way that is fair, but realistic by recognising that there are insufficient homes to meet everybody’s needs. At the same time, there is a need to make sure vulnerable people and those in most need have somewhere safe and affordable to live.
The council is consulting with residents and housing providers about what the council needs to consider when deciding what priority an applicant should be given. For example, should priority be given to people who are working, who are from Herefordshire, or who are volunteers or in certain types of employment i.e. key roles? There are also questions about whether people with large household incomes should be eligible to register for affordable housing and whether there are any specific groups of people who should be given priority on the register.
Councillor Russell B. Hamilton, cabinet member for environment, housing and planning, said: “We have to be realistic and acknowledge that despite the best efforts of all those involved the current system is no longer meeting the demands placed upon it. We are in a situation where we cannot possibly meet all of the calls for affordable housing in the county. The recent changes in the law provide the opportunity to improve things and to come up with a better system that supports those in greatest need.
“I am keen to ensure that we have a system that everyone understands and that we are able allocate the housing available in the fairest way possible. We need to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our society and want to hear how local people think we should prioritise who is offered affordable housing. Your views really are important and would be welcomed”
The consultation runs until 1st October 2012 and is available on the council’s website www.herefordshire.gov.uk/housing. A paper copy is available by ringing 01432 260641.