ALL change for tenants in housing review

editorial image

A REVIEW of council housing allocation in North Lanarkshire is underway.

This is line with changes brought about by the UK Governments’ Welfare Reform Act 2012, and to make sure the local authority is continuing to help those in greatest need of accommodation.

Many council and housing association tenants will be affected by the new legislation change which takes effect from April 1, next year.

Mary Castles, executive director of housing and social work services at NLC, said: “As a council, we will be carrying out a review of our existing allocation policy to meet the many challenges presented by these changes.

“Housing allocation gives priority to those most in need of housing as well as supporting existing tenants to move to another house. The circumstances and needs of individuals and families are assessed using a points system to determine their place on the housing waiting list.”

The changes made by the UK Government will include those of a working age only receiving housing benefit according to the number of bedrooms a household needs, often referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’.

This means that if you are of working age and are under-occupying your home by one bedroom, your housing benefit would be reduced by 14 per cent of your current rent and if you are under-occupying by two or more bedrooms, housing benefit would be reduced by 25 per cent.

From October 2013, those of working age and in receipt of benefits will receive the new Universal Credit.

This will mean that instead of housing benefit being paid directly to the council by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) claimants will receive their housing costs directly and need to make their own payments to the council.

In North Lanarkshire, there are currently over 22,000 tenants having benefit directly paid into their rent account.

North Lanarkshire Council may also need to change the existing policy on house size eligibility to bring it in line with the changes being proposed by the UK Government.

The Welfare Reform changes mean that families with children under 10 regardless of gender will need to share a bedroom.

Councillor Sam Love, convener of housing and social work services at NLC, said: “The changes in legislation will have an impact on the allocation of council properties.

“We will be carrying out consultations and a review of our existing polices to ensure that we continue to help those in greatest need, as well as making the best use of the limited housing stock we have available in North Lanarkshire.

“The council is already developing ways in which to help tenants who will be affected by the changes and has taken on additional employees to provide residents with the advice they need on how to deal with the impact of the new benefits system.

“This latest review of the policy, which will include six partner landlords operating the North Lanarkshire Common Housing Register and who operate the same allocation policy, will involve a wide ranging consultation with tenants, staff, elected members and other interested groups.”

For more information about the welfare reforms being introduced by the Westminister Government, phone 01698 403170 or go to www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/yourmoney.

What’s your view? Email our newsdesk or call 01236 725578.