More than 1,000 removed from St Albans council housing waiting list

MORE than 1,200 people under the age of 60 applying for social housing in St Albans are to be told that they will be removed from the district council’s waiting list.

Sweeping changes are being made to the way St Albans district council allocates its limited housing stock, with priority being given to those with both a housing need and local connection.

At last Thursday’s cabinet meeting councillors agreed to use greater discretion over who could join its housing register.

St Albans district council (SADC) has over 5,000 properties available for social housing in addition to 1,500 housing association homes it has nomination rights over, to house people on its waiting lists.

SADC operates a banding scheme with five categories – Band A for people with the highest level of priority and Band E the lowest.

Currently Band E includes people in a house or who have sufficient financial resources to house themselves.

Changes to that category mean that it will consist only of those over 60.

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Over the next 12 months SADC will write to 1,234 applicants under the age of 60, who have no identified housing need, telling them they will be removed from the Band E waiting list.

As of May 18 this year, there were 2,648 people on waiting lists across all five bands but only 362 homes became available between April 1, 2011, and March 31 this year.

At the cabinet meeting Cllr Mike Wakely said it was, “scary there are such large numbers” of people waiting for social housing.

Portfolio holder for housing Cllr Brian Ellis said that greater priority would be given to people wanting to downsize from three-bedroom homes to one-bedroom accommodation.

Priority is also being given to people with a stronger local connection – those without one will be advised they are no longer registered.

After the meeting Cllr Ellis said: “There is a great shortage of social housing in the district.

“Demand is greatly exceeding supply and only a small percentage becomes vacant each year so we are trying to develop a fairer system.”