Havering Council is planning to introduce a new points-based system for allocating housing.

It will replace a previous banding system that judged residents’ priority based on their income and community contribution.

The points system will instead be based on factors like medical needs, welfare claims and overcrowding issues.

It will also allow those on the housing register to “bid” for properties using the equivalent of a currency. 

Points would be allocated based on a variety of factors, such as homelessness, overcrowding issues and medical needs.  The new system will not take into account how long they have been on the waiting list, as is the case currently.

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Demand in the borough “significantly exceeds” the number of properties available, the council says, and only one in five households on the register stood a chance of finding accommodation in 2022/23. 

Patrick Odling-Smee, director of supported-housing provider Living Well, presented the new policy to the council’s people overview and scrutiny sub-committee on March 5.

He said a points-based system would take pressure off the council’s housing allocation process and move support workers away from just “shuffling papers” and towards helping people find appropriate accommodation.  

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of housing applications had doubled and he said staff had been “run ragged”. 

However, Mr Odling-Smee stressed that while it would see the council’s stock distributed in a “fairer way,” it would not involve building more social housing in the borough. 

Though some doubts were raised over how clear the process would be to applicants – and that people’s own assessments of their needs may differ with the housing service’s – Mr Odling-Smee said its similarity to a commercial marketplace would be “easy” for people to understand. 

Judith Holt, a Conservative councillor for St Albans ward, said the term “most in need” was subjective, with reference to a woman in her ward who has been waiting for ten years, and the demand for housing would instead go up. 

The director agreed that demand was likely to increase as economic circumstances in the borough “worsened”. 

Those in the borough who want a one-bedroom house may only wait for a “matter of months,” but those after bigger houses could face waiting times of several years, he added.  

Havering Council’s housing applications manager Kwabena Obiri said there will be “defined parameters” for who qualifies with “some degree of manoeuvre”. 

Some self-assessments may have to be “rejected,” following consultation with the relevant social care staff and independent medical professionals, Mr Odling-Smee said.

Under the new housing scheme, the council would also offer financial incentives for residents in social housing to downsize in a bid to free up stock. 

The Living Well director also acknowledged it would need to be handled “diplomatically,” as many would be attached to their homes and may not want to move out. 

Mr Obiri added that the authority would offer as much as £500 per room. 

The report, which will go before the cabinet on April 10, has been recommended for approval.