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Government consults on a Right to Move for tenants taking up work or training Matthew Warburton - 19/09/2014

Van_300DCLG has issued a consultation paper proposing a new Right to Move for council or housing association tenants seeking to transfer to another district in pursuit of work or training. Councils would be expected to set aside at least 1% of lettings for such transfers.

 

The consultation runs until 22 October and ARCH will be making a submission. I would be grateful to receive members' views on the proposals. Councils may also wish to post responses in the members' area of the website so that other members can refer to them.

 

The proposals apply to existing local authority and housing association tenants who need to move to another district in order to be closer to work or to take up a job offer or a work-related training opportunity. The government's intention is to make regulations to remove any local residency requirement such applicants and to ensure that they receive reasonable preference in local allocations schemes.

 

This could be done by expanding the existing guidance to make it clear that the "hardship" reasonable preference category applies to work-related moves, or by regulating to create a new reasonable preference category. Views are invited on the merits and drawbacks of these alternatives. DCLG also propose to add to guidance to ensure that councils set aside at least 1% of lettings for such moves.

 

DCLG wants views from councils on what evidence they would require to satisfy themselves that a job or training opportunity is genuine and not temporary, or whether a person needs to move to be closer to work.

 

The consultation paper also mentions broader issues concerning work-related moves. It asks for views on what barriers prevent working tenants from moving within and between districts and what more could be done to remove them.

 

It also announces an intention to support (financially) a small number of councils and their housing association partners to test out approaches to allocations and transfers which aim to reward positive behavior by tenants or make better use of the stock. More details are promised later in the year.

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ARCH Member Comments 2 people like this

  • Nicola Bradley, West Lancashire BC - 20 October 2014

    WEST LANCASHIRE BOROUGH COUNCILS RESPONSE TO CONSULTATION

    West Lancashire Borough council welcomes the opportunity to comment on the DCLGs consultation Right to Move.

    Whilst we agree with the need to develop a system which supports people’s aspirations and changing needs we feel it important to note the constraints imposed by local authorities housing stock both in terms of stock numbers and property types.

    We wholeheartedly agree that no one should be prevented from taking up employment because they can’t secure suitable housing.

    WLBC currently awards reasonable preference to those who ‘need to move to an area or locality to avoid hardship for example to access medical treatment or specialised services that would not be available to them if they did not move to that locality or to take up employment/training or to retain employment’

    In 2013 the council introduced a requirement for applicants to have a connection to the borough before any preference would be awarded. We did however include exceptions to this rule, for armed forces and ‘those who are able to provide proof of their “need” to move into the area and demonstrate why this “need” cannot be satisfied in their current location’, which would apply to those needing to move on employment grounds.

    With regard to the proposal to ‘strengthen and expand our statutory guidance to spell out in more detail the circumstances in which we would expect local authorities to apply the ‘hardship’ reasonable preference category to those moving for work or work related training’, or ‘regulate to create a new reasonable preference category for transferring tenants who need to move for work related reasons’, we feel that either option would achieve the desired result.

    In satisfying ourselves that someone needed to move for work, the council would request confirmation of employment/offer of employment, in the form of correspondence from the employer. We would also consider current distance from the workplace and practicalities such as availability and cost of public transport, salary, working hours and times, and length of contract.

    Where a tenant is found to have provided misleading information as part of their application for housing, we would consider taking action in line with the Tenancy Agreement which states:

    ‘We may serve a notice on you and seek to end the tenancy during the fixed term and recover possession of your home if for example:….

    You, or someone acting at your instigation, have knowingly or recklessly made a false statement which has induced us to grant you the tenancy.’

    Our only concern with the DLCGs proposals, surrounds the introduction of a lettings quota for social tenants moving across local authority’s boundaries for job related reasons. Whilst we appreciate this has merit in large cities with a more transient workforce, we feel that the disadvantages would outweigh the positives in smaller rural areas such as ours. The primary disadvantages being the costs associated with the additional bureaucracy required to administer and manage a quota system and the changes that would be required to our IT systems.

    At present WLBC continues to treat all requests for housing whether from existing tenants or those new to social housing in the same manner. We have not found that this has been to the detriment of tenant’s mobility, with over 35% of allocations currently being made to existing social tenants.

    Since July 2013, WLBC has been awarding increased priority for housing to those applicants who demonstrate a commitment to contribute to the Borough’s Economic growth as working households or who make a contribution within their communities, through volunteering, or Training, Education or Apprenticeships. Applicants who have served in the British Armed Forces would also qualify for a community contribution award automatically.

    Finally the council operates a Tenant Downsizing Scheme to provide some financial assistance to its tenants who are underoccupying and wish to move to smaller homes.

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