31 Jan 2024

Consultation on reforms to social housing allocations

There was considerable media coverage of the draft social housing allocations reforms in the week leading up to the publication of the consultation, much of which focused on the theme of 'British homes for British workers’. CIH highlighted the anomalies in the proposed policy, with government figures showing that 90 per cent of tenants in new social housing lets in England last year were UK nationals, as published in this article in The Guardian.

Gavin Smart, chief executive of Chartered Institute of Housing provided his comment on the now published consultation:

“We’re looking at the details of the proposed reforms to social housing allocations but it’s not clear to us what problem they are trying to solve. Local authorities already have powers to determine allocations based on an assessment of need, local connection and rules around access to public funds. (While eligibility criteria can vary, you already need to be a British or Irish citizen to apply for social housing or meet immigration conditions; most recent migrants have NRPF and are ineligible.) Registered housing providers already have a mandatory ground for possession for serious anti-social behaviour.

“If the government’s main concern is to increase the availability of social lettings, it could achieve this far more effectively by building more social housing. Further rationing of an already scarce resource does not address the fact that we have simply not built the homes the UK needs over the past forty years. At the same time, we’ve seen net losses of social rented homes grow – exceeding 200,000 since 2011 - mainly due to right to buy which the government continues to promote.

“Social housing is designed to support those in the greatest need but is out of reach for many who need it. Government’s own data is clear on the breakdown – in 2021-22 90 per cent of new social lettings went to households headed by UK nationals. Of the remaining 10 per cent, 5 per cent went to people from the European Union.

“With over a million people on the social housing waiting list and homelessness at record levels we need a serious long-term plan to tackle the housing crisis. This isn’t it.”

The reforms on social housing allocations also propose to prioritise people who do not disrupt communities through anti-social behaviour. We will be producing a What you need to know guide which will unpack and summarise all the details of this consultation for CIH members in the coming weeks.

We will be engaging with our members on the details of the proposals during the consultation process and will respond formally. If you’re a CIH member and would like to share your views, please email policyandpractice@cih.org