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REVISED HOUSING POLICY TO GIVE ISLAND RESIDENTS PRIORITY

countyhall4000The Isle of Wight Council’s Executive has approved a revised social housing allocation policy for the Island which gives local people greater priority for affordable social housing. The revised policy has been drawn up following extensive consultation and is designed to ensure local people with the highest need are given preference.

It follows new regulations introduced under the Localism Act 2011, allowing councils to shape their allocation policies to ensure best use is made of housing to meet the needs of local people. The revised policy also follows a review of the operation of the Island HomeFinder scheme – established in April 2010 as a partnership involving the council, Spectrum Housing Group, Southern Housing Group and Vectis Housing Association.

The Island HomeFinder scheme is a choice-based lettings scheme working in conjunction with the existing policy, and replacing the former housing register. It determines how an applicant’s housing needs are assessed, what priority they are given and where they are placed on the waiting list.

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The revised policy introduces local connection criteria that applicants will have to meet before joining the register. Other changes include giving higher priority to the Island’s social housing tenants who are under-occupying their homes, so they may move on – thus releasing family-sized accommodation for those who need it.

Households who exhibit anti-social behaviour may be excluded from the register.

The consultation included a survey; a total of 8,000-plus letters sent to social housing applicants inviting their views; and also views sought from stakeholders including housing providers, health and support services, and various community groups.

Councillor Lora-Peacey Wilcox, who has worked with officers to introduce the changes, said:

“The proposed revised policy takes account of the changes under the Localism Act and also takes the opportunity to review the effectiveness of the current Island HomeFinder scheme.

“The emphasis is on ensuring local people with the highest need are given preference and that this is achieved through a fair and thorough process in accordance with legislation.

“I am delighted that the changes will strengthen the link between Island residency and housing allocations.”

The Executive approved the revised policy at its meeting on Tuesday 9th September 2014.

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