Social housing in the ‘Royal Borough’ for middle class only (left, Cllr Emma Dent Coad, Labour Group Deputy Leader)

It took the Kensington and Chelsea Tory Cabinet less than four minutes to agree the new Tenancy and Allocation policies that will change the nature of the borough forever. A series of amendments to the existing tenancy and allocation policies agreed on 21 November, which come into force on 6 January 2014, comprise social cleansing in all but name.

These include measures that demonstrate a total lack of understanding that most people living in or in need of social rented housing are actually in work, in essential but under-paid occupations that keep the borough functioning. Other measures punish those most in need, the elderly, disabled, overcrowded and families in debt.

In essence these measures include:

–      An end to lifetime tenancies; new tenants have 12-month introductory tenancies that will not be renewed if you fall into arrears or if a member of your household engages in anti-social behaviour. This will punish some families struggling with debt or difficult family members.

–      The maximum tenancy is for five years, destroying stable communities

–      Removing 6,500 households with low points from the waiting list entirely

–      Increasing Direct Offers – effectively forcing tenants to accept the housing they are offered – particularly for those in Temporary Accommodation. This can include offers of a home for ‘Affordable Rent’ (anything up to 80% of market rate), out of borough, and for tenants who have to move because their homes are being redeveloped; this contradicts social housing providers who have pledged to offer a choice for those being moved or decanted

–      Overcrowded families can be re-housed into homes one or two bedrooms below need, thereby embedding overcrowding

–      Refusal to renew tenancies for households whose joint income is more than £50,000 for one-bed or £65,000 for two-bed homes

–      Demanding that students living away from home during periods of study leave the home permanently; this will break up families and cause isolation of young people. Where will they live outside term time?

–      No more re-housing priority for tenants affected by ill-health caused by disrepair; landlords will be able to leave properties in poor condition

–      No more priority for those leaving supported accommodation

–      Ability to discharge the Council’s ‘Homelessness Duty’ into private sector accommodation

–      Elderly or disabled people needing a spare room for carers will no longer have their tenancy renewed

–      The end of tenancy succession forever

According to Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Rock Feilding-Mellen, the new policy concentrates on providing social housing for ‘the right people’, these being ‘households and families in the middle of the income spectrum’.

Opposition Labour Deputy Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad said:

‘I am saddened and sickened by this blatant effort to rid the borough of low income and vulnerable families.

‘Just a few weeks ago the Council refused to adopt the London Living Wage for Council cleaning staff, yet they expect these hard-working families to keep up with the rent and possibly remain in overcrowded homes. Everyone knows that overcrowding can create social and behavioural problems, yet if this occurs the entire family could be thrown onto the street. These new policies will devastate stable communities and punish vulnerable families struggling to pay increasing rents while their pay is frozen.

‘We have told our residents over some time that this was coming, but many didn’t believe the Council could be so single-minded in their destruction of mixed communities. Now we have it; Cllr Feilding-Mellen wants social housing for middle income families only.’

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