Newham chiefs give nod to housing allocation plans


Newham Council is proposing changes to how it allocates social homes for the first time in nine years. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Town hall plans to overhaul how council homes are allotted have taken a step forward.

Newham Council's cabinet chiefs voted through the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday, July 20.

Cllr Shaban Mohammed, ​cabinet member for housing services, said: "Newham is at the sharp end of the housing crisis.

"This change will allow the council to focus on health, need and overcrowding."

The borough has 27,000 people on its housing waiting list and 7,000 children in temporary accommodation.

The authority announced in September it wanted to allocate social homes to those in greatest need and alleviate "severe" overcrowding.

A 12-week consultation between October and January saw 2,618 people respond to four proposed changes.

The first would see people joining the council's housing waiting list only if they have lived in Newham for three years. There are exemptions for some, including those fleeing domestic violence.

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Currently, a person can be added if they have lived in Newham for two years or work or have family in the borough. 

The second change would see time spent on the waiting list without a "housing need" not counted in the bidding process.

An applicant who is described as without a "housing need" is one who has yet to express a "reasonable preference" as to the type of home they are given.

People in work would also no longer be given priority and time spent on the waiting list would matter more.

The final proposal sees overcrowded households - those short of two or more bedrooms - given priority.

In total, 83 per cent of consultation respondents agreed with Newham's overall approach.

A report details "strong acceptance" for the three years rule, although concerns arose over people forced from Newham by their circumstances who want to return.

Newham estimates 1,000 applicants would be removed from its waiting list as a result of this proposed rule.

An equalities study also found the "potential" for an "adverse" effect on disabled people. Council papers state other benefits would lessen the impact.

Removing priority for people in work saw the highest level of disagreement, with 29pc objecting and 60pc agreeing with the idea.

According to the report, many said working people contribute to Newham via taxes and employment so would like to be rewarded.

Respondents also highlight concerns over whether Newham has enough large homes to fulfil the overcrowding proposal.