Published by Rebecca McAdam for 24dash.com in Housing, 28 January 2016
By Cllr Pat Callaghan, cabinet member for housing, Camden Council.
The New Year is now well underway and in Camden our new housing allocations policy has gone live.
The country, London in particular, is facing a housing crisis. Camden Council is committed to playing our part to tackle this. We are proud to have one of the largest house building programmes in the capital, providing genuinely affordable homes, providing much-needed jobs and apprenticeships and community investment in the process.
We have a 15-year, Community Investment Programme (CIP) which will build 3,050 new homes, 50% of which are affordable. In addition, Camden is investing £200m in refurbishing over 13,000 homes in the borough, through our Better Homes programme.
However, like most other London boroughs we are battling against savage government cuts, soaring house prices and an unaffordable private rented sector.
That’s why it’s so important that we make best use of the homes that we do have – it’s our job to help the individuals and families in our borough with the greatest need. There were over 30,000 people on the old list, but we only have about 1,000 homes a year at most to allocate.
Individuals and families on the new register are now being assessed and prioritised according to their level of need. Camden families who are severely overcrowded living in bedsits and studio accommodation and potentially suffering health problems as a result now have a better chance of getting a decent sized home.
Under the new system, families with children under five will now be given greater priority to help ensure children aren’t growing up in poor conditions, such as overcrowding with no place to play or grow – as all children rightly deserve in these critical years.
We know that the formative years between 0-5 are the most important years in a child’s life and help to determine the opportunities open to them as they grow up and their life chances as adults. We are confident our new system will help reduce child poverty, a key goal in the Camden Plan.
We want to make sure we give all children in Camden the tools to succeed, and the new system will help us to achieve that by making a real difference in the lives of disadvantaged children in Camden.
We also needed to make changes to the system to make sure it prioritised local people with a genuine connection to Camden, to help keep our diverse communities together. Under the old system anyone in the country could apply
Under the new system, applicants need to have lived in Camden for five out of the last seven years in order to be able to apply for housing.
There are some exceptions to this, for example people who are at risk of becoming homeless. We have a very proud and successful track record of preventing homelessness and the new allocation scheme will reinforce our aim to continue to reduce the number of families that need to be placed in temporary accommodation.
The new allocation scheme will make sure those who are in the greatest need of a council home have the best chance of getting one and improving their future prospects.