Duncan Lewis

Conservative run local authority to give council homes to foster parents, ex-army personnel and special constables while implementing government policy on housing

Date: (14 May 2012)    |    

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Hammersmith and Fulham in West London would be the first among the authorities who would set out how it was going to implement new laws introduced by the Government, which has been designed to stop the current practice allowing those on high incomes to stay in council homes for life and pass them on to their children.
The council's are thinking of giving priority to foster parents, former Army personnel and special constables according to a newspaper.
Preferences are being drawn for those who are in work or training or with a connection to the borough, such as their parents.
The plans seems most likely to be adopted by local authorities across the country as they try to find homes for the four million people on waiting lists, and with little new social housing being built.
Hammersmith and Fulham has 14,000 properties, with 10,000 people on its waiting list and only 500 new places coming up every year.
Westminster council is thought to be planning to adopt a similar policy but would be putting a higher cap of £50,000 or £60,000, while authorities outside the capital are expected to set lower ceilings to reflect lower salaries.
The proposals come after new laws came into force last month, spelling an end to the "tenancy for life" and giving councils more flexibility on dealing with waiting lists.
While they do not set any salary cap, housing minister Grants Shapps has suggested that those earning more than £100,000 should not be entitled to a council home.
The new laws also suggest that councils should set fixed-term tenancies for all new tenants, generally for five years, and mean that in future no one will be able to inherit a council home.
Andrew Johnson, head of housing at Hammersmith and Fulham, said that under its plans, the proposed five-year tenancy for residents would be reduced to two years if there was evidence of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
He said half the annual council house allocation each year would go to people in jobs or training or special priority groups. Currently, the authority gives just 15% of its homes to those in work.
Mr Johnson told The Times that they wanted to give reason for residents to work hard and make most of their lives. Council housing could be a great platform to help people get back on their feet; it should act as a springboard not a destination.
The current system does not promote personal aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home ownership and does not make the best use of the housing we have he added.