Plugging the gap

PUBLISHED: 12:33 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:42 24 May 2010

WITH reference to the article appearing in your newspaper on August 4 about the length of time people are having to wait for affordable housing, I would like to correct some inaccuracies. In 2002, the Government brought out new legislation around how loca

WITH reference to the article appearing in your newspaper on August 4 about the length of time people are having to wait for affordable housing, I would like to correct some inaccuracies.In 2002, the Government brought out new legislation around how local authorities should deal with homelessness and the allocation of social housing. Part of this precludes local authorities from excluding anyone from their housing registers, in particular, people living outside their local area. Cllr Bryant's comment in the article about the council being 'lax and na*ve' is therefore completely untrue and presents an image that officers are not interpreting policy and legislation correctly. Since April this year, 173 households have been housed within social housing in the area, of these only 11 (6.35 per cent) were living outside North Somerset. This certainly does not support the statistic published in the article that 44 per cent of properties are allocated to homeless people from outside the area. In fact, the majority of the 11 were older people who accepted properties which were difficult to let, ie, upper floor sheltered accommodation with no lift access. Allocation quotas are set by local councillors and within these quotas, there is allowance for 60 per cent of properties in rural areas to be allocated to applicants residing within the local parish.Affordable housing is let based housing need so those who are living in the most difficult housing conditions are given priority over those who are adequately housed. Once again, legislation expects the council to give preference to people in poor housing conditions or overcrowding and not the length of time they have been on a waiting list. It is therefore possible that someone could be waiting eight years for a property if they are in good housing, and are waiting for high demand properties in a high demand area.Demand for affordable housing is increasing year on year. The council is investing the money it received from transferring its homes into new affordable housing to build 400 new homes over the next three years to address this problem. This will go some way towards plugging the gap which has been exacerbated by the Right to Buy policy brought in by a Conservative Government years ago which halved the number of council houses available to let.ISABEL CUMMINGSExecutive member, North Somerset Council

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