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Thousands wiped off housing waiting list
NEARLY three quarters of people waiting for social housing in North Oxfordshire are to be wiped off the waiting list overnight.
Cherwell District Council’s list is to be cut by 70 per cent in a bid to curb “unrealistic” demands for properties.
Bosses are to take 2,800 people off its 4,000-strong housing waiting list, of which just 414 got homes last year.
They said there was no “realistic” chance of so many people being housed but dealing with their requests took up valuable staff time.
But there are fears those in need will be stuck for help.
The council is responsible for prioritising social housing through providers such as Sanctuary Housing.
People are placed in one of five bands but the Conservative-run council is now set to axe bands four and five, the least needy.
A report says: “At present anyone can go on the council’s housing register. Most have little or no prospects of securing social housing.”
It said the change – allowed through the Government’s Localism Act – will “enable staff resources to be more focussed”.
It will also free up staff to deal with a “significant” expected rise in queries from changes to the welfare system, it adds.
Lead member for housing Debbie Pickford said: “It is a cultural change. They think ‘my mum and dad got council housing, you have to supply me with one’.
“Sorry, why? If you are adequately housed and you can afford to openly rent you are not vulnerable.”
She insisted the council was working to get private homes built to help “aspirational” people.
But Clare Norton, CEO of Banbury youth homelessness charity BYHP, said: “It is more and more difficult now for under 25s to get any kind of housing support and this is only going to make it worse.”
Some youngsters have been considered “vulnerable” by BYHP but not the council, she warned, with benefit changes adding to the problem.
Labour group leader Patrick Cartledge said: “I come from a generation where local authorities used to provide social housing for all.
“We have gone to a system where everybody is expected to buy their own home which is virtually impossible at the moment or go private rented which is absolutely extortionate.
“The local authority should be there to provide housing where there is need.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Tim Emptage said: “I understand why the council is doing it but I am extremely nervous that people who have a genuine need that may not be reflected in their category could be removed from the list.”
The new policy is set to be agreed by the council’s executive on Monday.
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