New social housing policy outlined for Havering

Havering Council’s new social housing policy will allow families earning up to £50,000 apply to be on the waiting list.

The new Housing Allocation Scheme, approved by cabinet on Wednesday, will also allow applicants to have £20,000 to £30,000 in their savings to allow them to save up for a deposit.

Plans to raise the residency requirement in Havering from six to ten years were scrapped as the council admitted it would not have enough tenants to fill its supply of homes.

Lead member for housing Joshua Chapman said: “The allocation scheme will not affect the supply, but it has been designed to ensure sufficient households are on the register to meet the number of properties.”

Public feedback on the ten year proposal had not been positive, with the council’s housing director Patrick Odling-Smee admitting it would be a “step too far” earlier this week.

There are 2,000 people on the housing waiting list in Havering and a wait of up to seven years, the committee heard. A further 1,000 households are in temporary accommodation.

Since 2017 Havering has found homes for an average of 470 households a year, one quarter of which were family sized.

Councillor Chapman said the council will be delivering many new homes in the coming years, adding that the new scheme will “ensure that social housing is let in a fair and equitable way”.

The scheme will give priority to households making a ‘community contribution’ by remaining in paid employment of more than 16 hours a week, as well as disabled people, children leaving care and current or former armed forces members.

There will also now be an ‘Opportunities Register’ for those who don’t qualify, the council hopes to use this to market other options such as low-cost home ownership.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter