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Big changes to social housing on the way; Under-occupancy of homes could cost KMC PS1.3m.

Byline: JOANNE DOUGLAS News Reporter

PRIORITIES for social housing in Huddersfield could soon change.

Cabinet members will be asked next Wednesday to approve changes to the council's social housing policy.

It will mean that while there will be open access to social housing for all, some people will be classed as low priority.

These will include those already living in their own home, people with housing debt, a history of anti-social behaviour or no local connection.

The proposed changes also include: ? Prospective tenants allocated properties of the same size and type for which they would be eligible to claim housing benefit.

. ? Prospective adopters and foster parents will be able to bid for, and move to, a larger home which allows them to become parents ? All homes will be available to tenants of any age - with the exception of the council's retirement living properties, which are reserved for people over the age of 60.

. ? Where tenants die and they do not have a spouse or partner living with them, their tenancy can be inherited by another person, for example, a son or a daughter, ? Homeless households can be housed in appropriate private-rented accommodation.

It is also expected that the changes will deal with under-occupied homes, as people living in them will see housing benefit cut from next April.

Clr Cathy Scott, Kirklees Cabinet member for housing, said: "In view of significant legislation changes which will shortly affect the payment of housing benefit, the time is right for us to look again at our approach to making social housing available to residents.

"Our priority is always to make sure that the most vulnerable in society are protected and continue to have access to quality affordable homes, but at the same time we need to bring our existing policies into line with national guidelines."

People must be on the Kirklees Housing Register before they can be considered for a council property - there are currently around 18,000 people registered.

From April 1 2013, there will be changes to how housing benefit is paid.

Anyone under-occupying their property will see a reduction in their housing benefit of either 14% of the total eligible rent for under-occupation by one bedroom (390 people), or 25% of the total eligible rent for under-occupation by two bedrooms or more (1,846 people).

Currently 73% of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing tenants are in receipt of housing benefit.

Based on the new regulations it is calculated that the council could lose out on PS1,325,952 in rent in the next financial year compared to this year.

Clr Scott added: "Myself and colleagues are keen to see that we develop a fair and sensible approach to social housing which, in addition to other measures, tackles our residents' need for homes, but also ensures that people with the greatest housing need have access to a safe, suitable and affordable place to live."


| HOUSING CHANGES: Clr Cathy Scott, Cabinet member for housing
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2012
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