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People urged to take up social housing as bedroom tax leaves properties empty

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People urged to take up social housing as bedroom tax leaves properties empty

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing

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A local authority is set to discuss encouraging more people into social housing as homes sit empty due to the ravages of the bedroom tax.

Social landlords across Oldham have seen a fall in demand for two and three-bedroom flats, maisonettes and houses as tenants leave their 'under-occupied' homes to escape the controversial tax.

Now Oldham Council's cabinet has been asked to approve proposals aimed at tackling the issue as well as enabling it to better manage its housing register.

Following detailed discussions with Oldham’s registered providers, customers and councillors, three proposals have been outlined to tackle the current fall in demand for certain types of properties and provide a fairer approach:

  • Reducing the number of reasonable refusals from three to one, ensuring customers, who can view details of properties online, take greater responsibility when placing bids and only bid for homes that they are genuinely interested in.
  • Replacing the current ‘unacceptable behaviour’ test for eligibility to join the housing register with a new test that will enable the council to accept those applicants who are likely to make a success of their tenancies.
  • Amending the housing-related debt policy so that households with no housing need, but who have housing-related debts from previous tenancies will be expected to clear it before they are considered for a tenancy.

Additionally, households that have been given priority on the register but who have housing-related debt of less than £500 will be asked to reduce it by 50% in order to be considered for an offer immediately after joining the register. If a household is unable to afford this, it would be expected to make 12 consecutive payments towards the debt at an agreed level before being considered for an offer. Until they meet these conditions, these households would only be considered for hard-to-let properties.

Councillor Dave Hibbert, cabinet member for environment and housing, said: “Many people and families often don’t think social housing is for them but there are houses across the borough that are available and we want to encourage people who are adding value to the community to consider them as an option.

“We recognise the importance of meeting housing needs but as a co-operative council, we are very keen to ensure that people who do their bit for our community are recognised.”

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