It could be a five-year wait for a council house in Greenwich

Greenwich council is planning a radical change to its housing policy - banning people from joining its housing list until they have lived in the borough for at least five years

A labour council is planning a radical change to its housing policy - banning people from joining its housing list until they have lived in the borough for at least five years.

Greenwich council is tonight expected to agree the rule change. The council, which earlier this year achieved “royal borough” status, says it already has 14,500 families waiting to be housed, with 800 new applicants joining the queue each week, and needs to “manage expectations”.

The council says it is acting in advance of an anticipated flood of people priced out of more central boroughs by the Government’s new housing benefit cuts, which will limit a household’s rental handouts to £500 a week from next year.
Some families in London’s most expensive boroughs will not be able to afford to continue paying high rents and will be forced to move further out of town, says a report compiled by Greenwich council officers.

“This position will be particularly acute in areas of central and west London and as a result there is likely to be a migration of households. The proposed five years residency qualification will help reduce the demand from residents from other areas,” said a spokesperson.

Michelle Smith, London spokeswoman for the National Housing Federation, warned that the policy – believed to be a first in the capital and which could be adopted by other authorities - could lead to the poor effectively barred from moving into the borough. There will be some exceptions made – former soldiers and people judged particularly vulnerable may be able to join the list.

And Smith does feel some sympathy with the council’s stand. “The council are in a very difficult position and are looking for different ways to prioritise people,” she said. The news comes as councils across London tighten up their housing allocation policies.

Homes & Property has already revealed how people who do charity work will be given preferential treatment in Richmond, while Newham, Westminster and Wandsworth councils have all agreed to award council homes to those in current employment.

Last week, on June 13, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) revealed that the number of affordable homes being built collapsed by 65 per cent in 2011/12, to fewer than 20,000 nationwide.


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