Wokingham Borough Council launched last week (1 April) new rules to allocate social housing across the borough, following a public consultation in late 2021.
The council is updating its rules because of changes in the law and an unprecedented increase in demand caused largely by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The new rules will bring the council’s policies in line with other local authorities.
The council's housing allocation policy was last updated more than six years ago and the latest version includes several important updates to ensure it continues to help as many people as possible and prioritises its limited supply to local residents.
Under the new rules, all applicants are asked to prove that they, or a member of their household, have lived in the borough for at least five years running and still do at the time of applying. This is standard practice among many local authorities and ensures that people with long-standing local roots are given the support they need.
Eligible applicants who are offered suitable and affordable accommodation but turn the offer down without a valid reason will now be removed from the housing register for 12 months. This will ensure the council’s scarce resources are targeted at those who need them most and will tackle a long-standing problem of applicants refusing places without reasonable grounds.
Simon Price, assistant director of housing, said: “Housing plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing, and is so important to our economic well-being. Everyone has a right to safe, secure housing. We at the council understand this, and it’s why we are updating our housing allocations policy.
“The pressure on our social housing stock is growing year on year and we need to make sure that we have robust and clear policies to protect and make good quality social housing available to our most vulnerable residents.”
For more information, visit the council’s website at www.wokingham.gov.uk and search ‘housing needs’.