Police to get priority on housing ladder
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing
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Serving police officers in a London borough are to be given priority for low-cost home ownership opportunities.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has become the first local authority in the country to prioritise police officers.
The council believes that it is important that officers live in they community the serve.
Currently many officers and other key workers are being forced to buy property well outside of the area or rent in the private sector.
The borough has the fourth highest property prices in the country, with first time buyers needing to find an average deposit of over £50,000.
The council already has a register of 4,900 local people interested in so-called ‘intermediate’ low cost housing schemes.
From April, police officers living or working in the borough will be given a higher priority on the list.
Police will also be given access to two-year fixed term tenancies in council homes at a discounted market rent where a special allocations scheme has been agreed under a local lettings plan.
Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: “Police officers are amongst the pillars of the community but too many of them are forced to live well off-patch due to astronomical property prices.
“We believe that police officers that live in the community that they serve have a far greater connection with local residents and better understand the crime priorities of their neighbourhoods.
“This borough is extremely polarised as far as housing is concerned. As well as some extremely expensive housing, 31 percent of homes in the borough are social rented – well above the London average. There is hardly any housing for people on middle incomes – in fact only a two percent is intermediate. As the borough of housing opportunity, we want to build on that paltry figure so that decent hard working people such as police officers can live in this borough.”
The borough's police commander, chief superintendent Lucy D'Orsi, said: "This is a welcome step forward for housing in the borough. I hope that our officers will consider the benefits of living within the community that they work so hard to police and provide reassurance for."
H&F Council recently set up its own housing company in order to meet the demand for low cost homes. As a result the council is now building its own homes for the first time in 30 years.
The initiative, along with a joint venture with the private sector, will see 500 low cost homes built in the next ten years.
Later this month, the council will move to granting five-year or two-year tenancies for social housing lettings and in April only those with a local connection earning less than £40,200 will be able to access the social housing register.